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When most people think of Jewish desserts, the same old rugelach, babka, and stale macaroons come to mind. Author Penny Eisenberg, in her new book, Light Jewish Holiday Desserts, proves that Jewish baking has so much more to offer, including cookies, Charlottes, turnovers, loaf cakes, layer cakes, Bundt cakes, Napoleons, and tarts. Most Jewish desserts are also laden with fat, but Penny shows you, with her absolutely delicious recipes, how to cut the fat by as much as 75 percent...
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When most people think of Jewish desserts, the same old rugelach, babka, and stale macaroons come to mind. Author Penny Eisenberg, in her new book, Light Jewish Holiday Desserts, proves that Jewish baking has so much more to offer, including cookies, Charlottes, turnovers, loaf cakes, layer cakes, Bundt cakes, Napoleons, and tarts. Most Jewish desserts are also laden with fat, but Penny shows you, with her absolutely delicious recipes, how to cut the fat by as much as 75 percent in some caseswithout sacrificing any of the taste.
Jewish holidays are steeped in culture and tradition, so the chapters are organized by holiday and explain why certain foods and recipes are significant. Some recipes, though, are just fun, like the Chocolate Nut Roulade that can be shaped to look like a Torah for Simkat Torah. For Passover (Pesach), very strict guidelines must be followed, like no consumption of wheat flour, so Penny offers a Fresh Strawberry Torte with a crust made from ground matzoh.
Many of these recipes are so delicious, home cooks will want to prepare them year round. But come high holidays, these recipes are sure to impress family and friends.
For thousands of years, adherence to Jewish dietary law (the laws of kashrut) was essential to the practice of Judaism. Then, as now, this was not an easy task and required meticulous daily attention to food procurement, preparation, service, and cleanup. Kashrut has made food a major part of Jewish life, a preoccupation that has had a profound effect upon Jewish culture. Because Jews could not eat food prepared by outsiders, and could only eat certain foods and/or food combinations, our cuisine has remained distinct, despite incorporation of new foods arid techniques from the lands to which we have been displaced. Perhaps intentionally, these laws have set the Jewish people apart in a fundamental way.
The Torah teaches us, indeed commands us, to celebrate our holidays with joyous feasting, to eat certain foods at certain times of the year, to honor our history and our God by eating symbolic foods. In the Torah we are also counseled to be mindful of our physical health as well as our spiritual health. As human beings, we are genetically programmed to seek out foods that are sweet and fatty. As Jews, we may eat these foods because they add immeasurably to our enjoyment of life, and because they are comfort foods that connect us to our past. We are a people with a long and joyful culinary history!
In the United States, most Jews are of Germanic, Russian, or Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews). Our traditional foods reflect this. But Jewish cooking worldwide is as varied as the Jews who cook it arid the places in which Jews have lived. Those who are unfamiliar with Sephardic cooking from the Mediterranean, through the Middle East, and into Asia might like to read ClaudiaRoden's wonderful anthology, The Book of Jewish Food. Throughout time Jews have adapted their cooking to the new lands in which they have found themselves, and that continues today as Jews move throughout the world. In this era, some maintain the laws of kashrut and some do not. We have less time for cooking we spend less time together and more time working at nonphysical labor. Health professionals counsel us to cut back on foods high in fat and cholesterol, but these are often the traditional foods to which we cling for comfort and historic connection. How can we make our desserts healthier and still maintain our culinary cultural identity? What will distinguish Jewish food from food just cooked by Jews?
I believe that the true essence of Jewish food is that it tells a story about who we are and where we have come from. Throughout the centuries Jews have been storytellers, passing along culture and values through words, song, and food. Although recipes may change over time, the symbolism of the food itself remains constant. By linking ingredients to stories, people, events, or values, we can continue to have food that will be quintessentially Jewish, even as it reflects our particular time and place in history. It does not matter if we serve honey cake, chiffon honey cake, or lowfat honey cake on Rosh Hashanah. What is important is that we recognize and talk about the significance of the honey.
The recipes in this book were created by using fat reduction techniques that I learned from reading some of the wonderful lowfat books previously published. Susan Purdy's Let Them Eat Cake and Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts were particularly helpful. Shirley Corriher's fabulous book, Cookwise, was also an indispensable aid in expanding my knowledge about food science. Nutritional values were calculated using Mastercook Deluxe and are included for information only; do not use for specific medical problems. Each recipe was tested again and again to create the best dessert with the least amount of fat. To satisfy the palate and the soul, however, some fat has been retained to preserve the mouth-feel and flavor of our beloved food. I hope these recipes will please you physically (they taste good!), intellectually (they're better for you!), and spiritually (they all contain the requisite symbolic ingredients). The chapters are arranged by holiday with explanations of the foods to eat for each celebration. Recipes are marked as pareve (containing neither meat nor dairy), dairy, or both, meaning that the choice is yours. Although representing different Jewish customs, each recipe uses traditional ingredients to tell a story, link us to our past, and celebrate our Jewishness. Enjoy!
I welcome your questions and comments. You can me E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This delightful "tea cake" is quick and easy to make. The combination of flours and rising agents is designed to provide the best texture and to limit the amount of browning, which otherwise would be excessive. Although the cake has only a small amount of oil, it is moist and tender.
|Jewish Holiday Overview||x|
|Before You Begin||1|
|Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur||3|
|Dates of Jewish Holidays||326|