Blueberry Buns

Blueberries are my favorite summer fruit.  I love the color, texture, the little crown at the top of the berry, and the memories that I associate with this small delicate fruit that was plentiful on the East Coast.  As a child I picked berries in Lakewood, New Jersey and watched my Tante Marisha and mother prepare blueberry buns that we would eat straight from the oven, the warm berries oozing out with the first bite.  At The Rendezvous, a corner store in The Bronx, I always ordered fresh blueberry ice cream in the summer.  It had a particular fragrance that I had completely forgotten until this past year when a facial cream brought back this incredibly familiar smell, it was the smell of fresh blueberry ice cream.

Other memories include reading Blueberries for Sal to my children, a family favorite, and listening to Blueberry Pie by Bette Midler.

Life is peachy, let’s go bananas,
no one will care!
Blueberry Pie, let’s have fun,
’cause when all is said and done
I love you, yes I do,
’cause, Blueberry, you’re true blue.

There was a trip to Maine when the kids were little and we picked berries on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  Summer trips to Toronto where blueberry buns were a local specialty of European Jewish bakeries.  I remember my cousin Rose serving a delicious blueberry cake and I have a favorite peach and blueberry cobbler recipe that I make each summer.  Blueberry buns, or  yagda bilkelach, which is what they are called in Yiddish, are from an era when you could go out and pick your berries, bring them home and spend the day making something special for your family to eat.  Summer days should be like that.  Try them.

Make your favorite challah recipe or use the one I give on an older post.

Voila!

Blueberry Buns ( The photo is of my husband’s Toronto version, folded on the side but I prefer them pinched on the top)

Filling

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

Mix blueberries and sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll dough on floured board into circles 1/8 inch in thickness.  Place one tablespoon of filling in center and bring sides of dough to the top and pinch closed.  Brush with egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 buns.

Enjoy,

Irene

Sponge Cake


Almost there.  The kitchen is converted, not a speck of Hametz to be found.  It is only Friday afternoon and now in addition to planning for Passover, I am trying to figure out what we will eat tomorrow.  Tonight we are going to our synagogue for Shabbat dinner so one less meal to worry about.  Breakfast will be cheese and fruit but the real concern was afternoon tea.  A group of us have been getting together every Shabbat afternoon for many years but the Shabbat before Pesach is a challenge.  At first I cancelled,  but quickly reconsidered  knowing the day is long and, besides, what would  Shabbat afternoon be like without our friends gathered around.

So, last night I went to the Farmers’ Market and bought beautiful strawberries, a cherimoya, golden beets, purple kohlrabi and purple cabbage.  I came home this afternoon and made a Sponge Cake to serve with the strawberries.  I cooked a pot of quinoa to turn into a cold salad with roasted yellow beets, dried cranberries and mango.  I have no idea what I will do with the purple cabbage but I still have some time.

Truth be told the sponge cake looked beautiful when it came out of the oven (see photo).  It was high and golden and I inverted it and allowed it to cool and guess what? As it does every year, it fell.  I will slice it up and serve it with the strawberries on top and nobody will care. Here is the recipe I used which is pretty simple and I know that others have made with success!!!

Sponge Cake

7 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tbs Meyer lemon juice

3/4 cup potato starch

dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat yolks till they are light and fluffy and turn a creamy yellow color. Slowly add sugar and lemon juice and beat till blended. Add potato starch and mix well.

Beat whites with salt till stiff peaks form. Fold into egg mixture and bake in ungreased tube pan. Invert and allow to cool.

Serve with strawberries.

Enjoy,

Irene

Essia’s Apple Cake

I wrote this last night in a state of exhaustion but I was determined to post a  recipe. I don’t know Essia very well but I wanted to add that I have reliable sources who say she is a very good cook.  Essia, thank you so much for sharing this recipe with me. I am definitely going to make it but I might take the liberty of using strawberries and rhubarb as the filling, for color contrast and because I love rhubarb!

A recipe from a member of Temple Beth Am’s Library Minyan.

Essia’s Passover Apple Cake

Batter

6 large eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups cake meal

2 Tbs potato starch

Combine ingredients in food processor for several minutes.

Apple Filling

4 large apples (Granny Smith)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tsp cinnamon

Peel and thinly slice apples,  toss with other ingredients. Allow to sit for several minutes.

In a 9 x 11 pan, alternate  batter and apples,  beginning with a layer of batter and ending with a layer of apples.

Topping

Combine 2 Tsp cinnamon with 1 Tsp sugar and 1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  NOTE:  Essia sent me an e-mail saying she used a springform pan which worked beautifully.

Enjoy,

Irene


Imberlach

This is a Saiger family recipe for a Passover confection called Imberlach.  The recipe was handed down to my mother-in-law from her mother-in-law, Manya Saiger, my children’s great-grandmother.  My mother-in-law once described Imberlach for a Passover cookbook “watch your cavities or fillings, the imberlach are jawbreakers, but oh so good.”

Imberlach
1 1/2 lbs. honey
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 lb. matzoh farfel
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
1 cup chopped walnuts

Bring honey and sugar to a boil, lower heat and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly.  Add farfel slowly and cook an additional five minutes.  Make sure there is still a little liquid in the bottom of the pot.  Add ginger and walnuts and stir for ten minutes until mixture is brown.  Wet a wooden board with cold water and pour mixture on, carefully spreading with a wet knife. Allow to set for several hours and cut to form diamond shapes. Candy is sticky.

Enjoy,
Irene

Brownie Meringues

We are now three weeks away from Passover.  This is the first time in about twenty years that we will be conducting the Seder in the dining room primarily because twelve of us can fit there.  No need to empty out the living room, order extra tables, rent cloths and napkins.  Yet instead of being happy about shedding all of the planning and angst that can accompany preparing for a large Seder, why are my thoughts drawn to Seders past with longing and nostalgia and to future Seders with something akin to dread.  It has been a difficult year.  My 92-year-old father passed away in September and for the first time, he will not be present at our Seder. Growing up in NYC, Seders were pretty traditional affairs; my father and the other men would stand and chant the Haggadah in unison, with no one else participating.  The wives read along silently and the children wiggled and giggled and waited for dinner.  It was not egalitarian or engaging or educational and yet I have warm and happy memories.  The table was beautifully set, the fine china was brought out, wonderful aromas came from the kitchen, new clothing was purchased, cousins got together and my father and the other men argued about politics all through the meal. Pesach was special. Continue reading

Hamantaschen

It is Sunday morning, March 13th, 2011.  My plan was to bake Hamantachen today, allowing for enough time to ship them to New York and Florida.   I am still going to bake, but things feel different.  In the background the radio is turned to NPR, reporting on the situation in Japan. There is a tradition of giving Tzedakah before Purim, and  I hope that we all continue to bake, and to give…. www.redcross.org

Wishing you a Chag Sameach.

Note: I posted this last year, and the comments I received on the dough recipe ranged from those who said it was much too soft to work with, to those who felt it was perfect.  The trick is to feel the dough, add flour as needed and enjoy!

The Purim of my childhood was not very memorable.  I do not remember dressing up costume, attending Purim carnivals or going to hear the reading of Megillat Esther.  I do not remember my mother making hamantaschen or delivering Mishloach Manot.  Purim was not part of the fabric of my childhood.  My first encounter with hamantaschen was watching my mother-in-law, Lillian Saiger, make them in her home in Toronto.  It made quite an impression on me.  I was 21 years old, a newlywed, still in college, and living in a foreign country.  My in-laws were living in the same home that my husband’s maternal grandparents had owned.  The hub of that house was the kitchen, with windows that faced a backyard filled with lilac trees.  It was a house with history and part of that history included baking hamantaschen. Lil made enough hamantaschen to ship to her children, some of whom were already living outside of Toronto.  She made her own filling, a combination of dried fruits that she stewed and pureed and then gently placed in the center of these circles of dough that she had rolled out and cut.  She pinched three corners together and baked the cookies until they were golden.  They were soft, warm and delicious.  I remember that the hamataschen were kept in a tin, placed in a cupboard next to the breakfast room table.  We would have them with coffee every day, until they were all gone.  I don’t have any idea if they actually lasted till Purim.  We eventually moved to Los Angeles and had three children of our own.  Each Purim, we dressed the kids in costumes, delivered mishloah manot and took them to hear Megillat Esther.  Each year I would make hamantaschen and place them in a tin to have with coffee.  They may not be exactly the same as my mother-in-law’s ( I don’t think she actually used a recipe) but they are close.  Thank you Lil!

P.S. Keep them in a tin.

Lil’s Hamantaschen
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tsp. baking powder
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl.  Combine eggs and oil and mix well.  Slowly add orange juice and then mix into dry ingredients.  Put mixture onto floured board and handle until soft and pliable.

Filling
6 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups raisins
3-4 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water or orange juice

In a small heavy bottomed pot combine all ingredients over low heat and cook until fruit is soft, about 20 minutes.  Add water if needed.  Process mixture in Cuisinart for about 30 seconds until mixture looks like a dark jam. Roll dough out on floured board till about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out small circles and place a teaspoon of filling in the center.  Pinch sides together to form a triangle.  Brush with beaten egg and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown.

Enjoy,
Irene

Brownies and Good Neighbors

When we moved into our home in Beverlywood about 21 years ago our next door neighbor immediately greeted us with a cake.  Having grown up in an apartment building in The Bronx, I always thought that particular tradition was something that only happened in the movies.  Sara S. and her husband Ben had built their home in Beverlywood in 1947 and had lived there ever since.  Sara was a petite, elegant and vibrant woman in her seventies.  Ben was a towering, handsome businessman who was still going to work every morning ( and still does.)  Having moved into Beverlywood just after the birth of our third child, there was something so comforting about having Sara and Ben next door.  Sara and I soon discovered that we both loved to cook and garden.  Sara was famous for her fudge, a recipe I never was able to coax out of her, but through the years we were the happy recipients of numerous tins of fudge and enjoyed every piece.  Sugar, butter and eggs passed back and forth between our kitchens.  Sara heated her pool during the summer and my children had swimming lessons there.  If my kids weren’t in the pool on the weekend, Sara would call me on the phone and remind me that heating a pool was an expensive proposition and my kids better get over there and use it.  Last week Sara passed away.  It was not only the loss of a friend and neighbor but the end of an era.  Good neighbors are hard to find.  Fortunately we still see Ben as he leaves for the office in the morning.  So, in memory of Sara and to promote “neighborliness” here is a recipe you can make.  It isn’t fudge but it is pretty close.  A dense, dark, fudge brownie.  Why not make a batch and bring it over to your neighbor.

Chewy Fudge Brownies
4 Oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour
1 cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8″ square pan. Melt chocolate and butter in heavy pan set over low heat or in double boiler. Stir till melted and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. Add vanilla, eggs, sugar and salt to chocolate mixture and stir. Add flour and mix well and then add nuts. Bake 45 minutes till toothpick in center is barely clean. Remove and cool on rack.

Enjoy,
Irene