So the past few weeks have been busy. Cooking for new clients and teaching cooking classes twice a week. I’m grateful for the work and wouldn’t change anything (ok well maybe I would want a little bit more but things are good). I know I have been running all around Houston. Going to different markets daily to find the best ingredients for my customers. Strategizing new marketing ideas and writing recipes. When I started this weekly parsha salad post I wrote an outline and came up with some interesting salad to parsha connections. The posts actually were the inspiration for my children’s weekly parsha cooking class. This has been an amazing class and each week the children and I prepare something that like the salads is connected to the parsha of the week. So here I am all set to start class today and as I say the name of the parsha to the children it hits me like a brick – the recipe I have planned isn’t connected to this weeks parsha at all but next weeks and when I have an opportunity to look at my outline for the salad of the week it’s another palm to forehead moment. I somehow missed a parsha!
When I arrived home out came the Chumash and I dove in. Usually I try to read a little everyday but well I have been busy. The parshiot of the next few weeks have always been ones that I found easy to teach when I was in a preschool classroom. When my own children were younger I remember learning these with them as well. I am not sure how my perspective has changed but I find different images and meaning to the text as I am learning it now but there is still something about the image of Yosef parading about in his special coat his father gave him that mesmerizes me. The fury that his older brothers must have felt to be taunted and then to have their younger brother rub salt into their already damaged egos with his dreams. The disfunctionality takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level. Does Yosef crumble into despair and depression. No he has emuna and he trusts in Hashem. He holds true to the values he learned form studying with his father. He keeps his faith close and doesn’t allow himself to be tempted even though it lands him in prison. Somehow in his actual imprisonment he loses his arrogance of youth and becomes the man we refer to as Yosef Ha’tzadik. The transformation is in some ways a nes (miracle). He changes; perhaps the splendid colorful coat was a foreshadowing of the transformation he would undergo. A reverse butterfly going from a primping boastful boy to a man of virtue and character.
Hopefully this weeks salad will entice you with its vibrant colors and hold you with it’s depth of flavor.
Technicolor Dream Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked cous cous
1 cup shelled cooked edemame
1 cup diced cooked sweet potato (cooked until still firm)
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup diced red & yellow bell peppers
1 cup seeded & diced cucumber
1 medium red onion diced finely
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro / parsley
½ cup low sodium tamari sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine / apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 scallions chopped using both the white & green parts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds – if you have black sesame seeds use those
1/8 to ½ teaspoon sriracha sauce depending on taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine well. In a measuring cup or small container combine the dressing ingredients and blend well. Pour over salad and toss to evenly distribute.
Yaakov is on his way back to Eretz Canaan after living in his uncle Laban’s tents for 20 years. He has amassed wives, children and material wealth. He hopes to reconcile with his brother after all of these years. Sadly he is told that his brother is headed toward him with hundreds of men on a warpath. Yaakov does all he can to prevent this, he davens, he prepares for war if he must, he prepares gifts for Esav and sends his family across the river Jabbok to protect them. While he sleeps he is visited by Esav’s malech (angel) and Yaakov wrestles with this malech all thru the night. During his struggles his hip is injured but in the end he wins. The angel imparts a new name on him. He calls him Yisroel, meaning “he who prevails over the divine.” As I was preparing a recipe for this week’s parsha salad it this stood out as the first thing I remembered about the parsha before I actually read it again. So in that merit this week the parsha salad will be my take on the humble but delicious Israeli Salad.
Israeli Salad ala Shoshana
2 large hothouse cucumbers seeded and cut into ¼ inch dice
4 medium roma tomatoes seeded and diced
1 medium red onion diced
1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
3 or 4 depending on the size Israeli pickles diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
juice from 1 large lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 or 2 teaspoons onion powder
salt & pepper
Mix all of the chopped veggies in a bowl. Add herbs and seasonings. Add lemon juice & olive oil. Mix well. Serve at room temperature. You can change the veggies you use but keep the cucumbers and tomatoes as your base, see what you like. Also lime juice in place of the lemon juice is a nice change as well.
When Yaakov leaves the tents of his father and mother it is in haste and in fear for his welfare. Although he leaves with his father’s blessing and his mother’s guidance he has hurt his brother. He leaves Be’er Sheva and heads toward his uncle Laban in the land of Haran a distant and strange land far from all that he has known. We learn that he arrives at ‘the place’ and he sleeps there. Using stones as a pillow he dreams of a ladder reaching to the heavens. The melachim (angels) are traveling up and down this ladder and Hashem comes to him and tells him that the land upon which he sleeps will be his and his descendants and that they will be as many as the dust of the earth. Hashem promises to protect and guard Yaakov wherever he wanders and that he (Hashem) will bring Yaakov back to this land. Upon arising Yaakov turns the rock he had rested upon into an alter and calls the place Bet El. The image of the angels has always fascinated me, crafting ladders out of challah dough or art supplies has been something I have done with students and my children over the years as part of learning this parsha. In keeping with my parsha salad theme however I decided to play on the text a bit and came up with an interesting salad dressing. As you mix the ingredients together perhaps you can imagine the image of a ladder reaching up to Hashem and think about the emuna (faith) that Yaakov gained from this vision.
“Beer” Sheva Dressing
½ cup pale ale or beer of your choice (darker beers will have a deeper stronger flavor)
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons your choice citrus zest
2 teaspoons stone ground or Dijon mustard
1 or 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix all of the herbs and seasoning ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the liquids. Either pulse in a food processor or magic bullet until fully emulsified. Serve over leafy green salad of your choosing.
Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago I was saying that Fall had arrived in Houston? Well it’s now as cold as a cast iron commode! Things happen in big ways here in Houston. Weather is no exception. It is totally normal to wake up in the morning and have temperatures hovering around 70F and then by dinnertime they have dropped 20 or more degrees. The thermostat is hovering in the low 50s now (it is predicted to drop into the 30s tonight) and let me tell you the house feels nippy. It seems that a nice pot of savory soup is what it will take to remove the chill. Being that I had a whole day of stay at home plans today I appraised the groceries on hand and decided a nice aromatic pot of Roasted Garlic & Tomato soup is on this evenings menu. To make the meal complete I will be making grilled cheese sandwiches and a green leafy salad to accompany the soup. I love shopping in my own refrigerator and pantry to inspire a recipe. That means I can experiment and create new things. This isn’t a new recipe per say but it is one you can improvise with and use the produce you have on hand.
Roasted Garlic & Tomato Soup
5 or 6 roma tomatoes cut in half (you can use any tomatoes you have on hand)
1 or 2 garlic bulbs split open or 12 or more garlic cloves
½ cup fresh basil or a few tablespoons of dried basil
4 cups vegetable stock / water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese grated
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place cut tomatoes and garlic on the sheet pan and liberally drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 350F until the garlic and tomatoes begin to caramelize. Remove from the oven. On the stove bring the stock/water to a soft boil and add the roasted veggies. Chop the basil if using fresh and add it to the pot. Once the pot returns to a boil turn off the flame. Slowly add the heavy cream stirring. Using an immersion blender zhoom the soup to a creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Serve hot sprinkled with the Parmesan cheese and a nice slice of crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.
(Parve version can be made by adding coconut cream or unsweetened nondairy substitute of your choice)
For years as a preschool and supplemental Hebrew schoolteacher this week’s parsha was always one of my favorites to teach regardless of the age of my students. The smell of a hearty soup cooking in the back of the classroom as we studied the text makes for a really strong memory. In each setting part of the fun was preparing the soup, chopping the vegetables, measuring the lentils. Red Lentils. Most often the children would curl up their noses and insist that there was no way they would eat lentils. Often parents would tell me that there was no way their children would eat lentils. Yet each year with all of the different groups of children they ALWAYS ate the lentil soup that we made. Often asking for seconds. After having such amazing success in getting my students to eat lentils I would rush home and make lentil soup for my family. The reception at home was not as consistent. Over the years my children grew up their tastes changed and then I met and my husband. He is my biggest fan and supporter. He loves the food I prepare. There are almost no exceptions. One of the biggies is the tiny little lentil. He has no problem telling me he doesn’t like lentils in any form. So for a number of years parsha Toldot has been without lentils in our home. Creating this series of parsha salads had me bound and determined to change that. So in honor of the parsha our Shabbos meal this week will include a robust salad made of lentils, red lentils to make us think of Yaakov brewing his stew and Esav returning from the fields famished and demanding “some of that red stuff”.
Yaakov’s Lentil Salad
1 cup dried red lentils
1 cup sliced baby carrots / diced carrots
1 cup red onion diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic or 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup to 1 cup diced celery
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 or 2 tablespoons caper berries
In a saucepan combine the dried lentils, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf and oregano. Add enough water to the pan to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer until the carrots are tender and lentils are soft but not mushy. Drain water from veggies and remove bay leaf. Place in a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice, celery, parsley, capers, salt and pepper. Toss gently to mix and then let sit to allow flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature.
Hi, I'm Chef Shoshana. I have been cooking as long as I can remember starting out in both of my grandmothers kitchens learning by observing and practice. Over the years I have cooked my way through all of life's moments; cooking for family, friends, and clients. For me cooking has always been an expression of caring and love. Each meal I prepare is a reflection of that. When I cook for a client I want them to feel as if the meal was made by a loved one especially for them. The blog section of my website is where you will find recipes & anecdotes from my daily experiences in the kitchen with both clients and family. I hope you enjoy!