You know it’s been a good Shabbat when I’m writing on Naomi’s computer after havdalah because we never actually went home after lunch. And Rebecca’s sitting next to me saying, “the food this weekend was really good!”
Last night was a Shabbat/salon at our place. The Grad Network salon series started about three years ago, and while it has changed a lot during that time, the basic premise is the same: get together for Shabbat dinner, then discuss an article of interest over dessert. Sara has been instrumental in keeping these going for the last year or so, and she picked the article and facilitated the discussion last night. The article was about the All-of-a-Kind Family books, which some people remembered fondly from their childhoods, and other people didn’t know at all. But, as usual, the salon discussion veered off to a general discussion of Jewish identity, and everyone found something to relate to. And, when Marc didn’t, he referenced the science fiction books and Mel Brooks movies of his childhood. I was especially excited because we also got to discuss the K’ton’ton books, which were pivotal in my own childhood.
In addition to the great discussion, the food all came together really nicely. We had a crockpot lentil chili that I made for the first time (not something I usually do when hosting) flavored with molasses and apple juice. I also used my cast iron skillet for the first time (thanks, Janet!) to saute onions for the chili and for the spinach casserole at the same time, which was really efficient!
I rounded out the menu with roasted sweet potatoes, plus an awesome Israeli-esque salad from Rebecca, kale with marinara sauce from Beverly, chips from Mattea, seltzer from Edward, wine from a few generous folks, and a gorgeous pie from Hephsie. It’s also important not to underemphasize the importance of the paper goods that Ilana and Steven brought, which allowed cleanup to go quickly and smoothly and me to go to sleep before midnight. (Sorry environment, but thanks for understanding.)
Sara also made her now-famous kamut flour challah (scroll all the way down for the recipe), and since she baked it at my place, I got the benefit of the house smelling like challah without having to do any of the work. That also means that Sara and I got to hang out all afternoon while all this cooking was happening, and that was a serious added benefit.
Today, Minyan Tikvah hosted off-week lunches, which means we had meals with Minyan Tikvah folks without a minyan meeting beforehand. Beverly and Naomi hosted us, and we ate really well, then kept eating all afternoon. And, since I’m still at their house, yup that’s right, I’m still eating the amazing lunch food (and there’s pizza in the oven!). I also learned about Beverly and Naomi’s policy to tell new guests who have never been over before not to bring anything but themselves. It’s a really nice way to make people feel especially welcome!
There were way too many great recipes this Shabbat to share them all, but here are a few. And if you want to request any other recipes that aren’t included (or if you made something and want to share the recipe), just let me know!
Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili
From: Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson
(though the comments in first person are my own)
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder, or to taste
1 1/2 C dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/3 C dark unsulfured molasses
1/2 t ground allspice
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 C water
1 C apple juice
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cook 30 seconds longer. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the lentils, tomatoes, molasses, and allspice (I don’t have allspice, so I used some ginger and cinnamon) and season with the cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the water and apple juice, cover, and cook on Low for 8 hours (I cooked it on high for 5 hours or so). Add more water if the chili gets too thick — this is what the directions say, but I actually thought it was too liquidy. This might be because I adjusted the cooking time/temperature. I think next time I’ll use a little under a cup of apple juice and only 1 cup of water. I also think diced tomatoes instead of crushed would add nice texture. I doubled the recipe, and it served 12 people with lots of leftovers, which I’m excited to eat with soy hot dogs.
Kale Marinara (from Beverly)
2 pounds frozen kale
a jar of pasta sauce (good and garlicky if you like it that way)
6 crushed (not cut) cloves of garlic
half a jar of pasta sauce’s worth of water
Put everything together in a pot and boil for 45 minutes. That’s it! But lots of people who say they don’t like kale couldn’t get enough of it. (I plan to eat the leftovers on pasta.)
T Cookies (from Naomi)
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Mix together in 9×13 pan (makes fewer dishes!). Cut in a stick of cold butter like you’re making pastry dough. Add 1/4 cup oil. It’ll be crumbly like biscuit dough or pie crust. Push it into the pan to make it as flat as you can.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the edges are sort of brown. Immediately after removing it from the oven, spread a layer of apricot jam then sprinkle with chocolate chips. After sitting for about 5 minutes, the chocolate will be melty and spreadable. Let it cool before devouring. With any luck, there’ll be some left for the actual meal.