Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! When I recently attended KosherFeast in New York, I met Rochie Pinson, the author of Rising, The Book of Challah: Recipes for Challah & Life from Rebbetzin Rochie’s Kitchen (Feldheim Publishers, 2017. I had received a review copy of her new cookbook and was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with her in person.
In Rising, Rochie takes us with her on her fascinating challah journey, sharing her experiences along with the insights gleaned during decades spent perfecting the art of challah baking and teaching challah workshops around the world.
From Kobe, Japan to Brooklyn, NY!
When Rochie married and started her own Shabbat traditions, she knew that a home that smelled of challah baking needed to be part of her new life. The answer came in the form of an emergency. Young and newly married to a rabbi, she had excitedly accepted the offer to travel with her husband to Kobe, Japan for the High Holidays to bring some inspiration and Torah to the small community still remaining there. They neglected to mention that as the “rebbetzin in residence,” Rochie was assumed to be fairly proficient in the kitchen. However, she was young and naïve and had let others do the cooking for most of her life.
When Rochie arrived in Kobe, she was informed that the community was eagerly awaiting her delicious Rosh Hashanah meals. Following multiple frantic, expensive transatlantic calls to her mother back in Canada, she managed to figure out how to make the basic holiday foods. She innocently asked their host whether he wanted her to go and buy the challah for the holiday or if he been planning to go himself. He informed Rochie in a good-natured way that, of course, the rebbetzin would bake the challah for the community! Apparently, there is no kosher bakery in Kobe.
The slight panic became very real as Rosh Hashanah was to begin the following evening. This led to additional expensive transatlantic calls to her mother, who read the challah recipe to Rochie, who faithfully copied it down and got to work.
Many hours later, Rochie was dusted in a coating of flour, like ‘a veritable human schnitzel!’ Exhausted and exhilarated, there were 40 somewhat misshapen but fantastic-smelling challahs lined up on the counter of an unfamiliar kitchen. Rochie was completely hooked on challah! When she returned home to ‘Jew York’ where kosher bakeries were plentiful, she was determined to find a way to make challah-baking a part of her new home and life.
Her culinary journey led to the creation of Rising: The Book of Challah. In her wise, warm, and humorous voice, Rochie Pinson guides the reader through every step of the rewarding process of making challah, all the while sharing tips, tricks, and great stories.
This cookbook/memoir is a work of art, with over 75 gorgeous, full-color photographs by acclaimed photographer Monica Pinto, charming how-to illustrations throughout by Lucy Engelman, and hand-lettering by Rochie Pinson herself.
The recipes are triple-tested and time-tested and destined to become classics in your family. Rochie Pinson’s classic challah recipe alone is reason enough to buy this book. You will not find a more perfect challah recipe. But don’t stop there… gluten-free challah, sourdough challah and exotic challahs from around the world are just some of the treats you’ll find within.
This cookbook is geared to beginners and experts alike. Nothing intimidating or complicated here – every recipe is meant to be used, cherished, and passed on to the next generation of challah bakers.
Rochie shares: “This is a book for those of us who find ourselves wishing for a return to a simpler time, a slower pace, a scent of bread baking in the home, and a sense of peace in the moment. This cookbook wants to be an alarm to our subconscious, reminding us that the mess in our kitchen, the noise in our brain, the stickiness of the dough underneath our fingernails, and the aroma of warm challah on a cold Friday afternoon means that we are not merely alive––we are living––and that is a wonderful thing.”
She continues: “A challah dough is a living organism. It requires air, water, attention, and intention. Its recipe so closely mirrors the recipe for a well-balanced life, in fact, that as I baked my challah each week, I kept on learning new things about the care and attention required by the living beings under my watch (children, husband, community, and the like), and thus, Rising––the blog, and eventually, the book and this cookbook ––were born.”
Rising, The Book of Challah contains 38 amazing challah recipes, including all the classics, challahs for every holiday, exotic challahs from every pocket of Jewish communities around the world, ways to embellish a perfectly good challah to make it extraordinarily irresistible, recipes for things to make with extra challah dough and leftover challah.
Recipes include: Moroccan Challah, Deli Challah, Onion Challah, Iraqi Pita, Peaches & Cream Challah, the most gorgeous Henna Painted Challah! There’s Chocolate Babka Twist, Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting, Challah, Wild Mushroom & Herb Stuffing…so many choices!
Rochie wrote: “It is my prayer that through this book, and the magic of challah, we will grow to nurture ourselves––and the ones we love––so that we all rise to our fullest, most expansive, and transcendent selves, and maybe bake some awesome challahs along the way.”
To order a copy of Rochie’s book, Rising, The Book of Challah: Recipes for Challah & Life from Rebbetzin Rochie’s Kitchen (Feldheim Publishers, 2017), follow the link: http://www.feldheim.com/rising-the-book-of-challah.html. And don’t forget to order extra copies as gifts! Rising belongs on the cookbook shelf in every Jewish kitchen!
The following challah recipe and scrumptious dip are perfectly appropriate to serve for your Chanukah celebrations!
ROCHIE’S OLIVE OIL, KALAMATA, & ROSEMARY CHALLAH (Pareve)
Throughout the holiday of Chanukah, it is customary to eat foods that have been prepared with or fried in oil. This helps us recall the miracle of the small cruse of pure olive oil hat was found in the Holy Temple and miraculously burned for eight days.
This incredibly delicious challah is perfect for Shabbat Chanukah and is a great way to put some olive oil into our food without all the greasiness. We’ll save the doughnuts for dessert!
Yield: 8 x 1lb challahs
Each 1 lb challah yields 6 small challah rolls
1 (19-oz) jar Kalamata olives (in wine vinegar or just brined), pitted and chopped fine
1 bunch fresh rosemary, checked for insects, stems & sticks removed, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, caramelized (optional)
Dash red chili flakes
4 3/4 cups very warm water
1 1/4 cups sugar
7 tsp granulated yeast
13–15 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
2 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
Rosemary leaves, coarsely coarsely chopped
Red chili flakes
- To prepare the Kalamata olives and rosemary: Remove the pits from the olives and chop finely. Set aside. Wash the rosemary and remove the leaves from the stems. Chop finely. Set aside in a separate bowl. If using red onion, dice and sauté in a tablespoon of oil until caramelized. Set aside.
- Pour the very warm water into a large bowl. Add the yeast and the sugar. Allow a few minutes for the yeast to bloom.
- Add about half of the flour and all the salt and mix until a smooth batter forms.
- Add the eggs and olive oil and stir again until smooth.
- Add the extra ingredients now: chopped olives, rosemary, a light dash of red chili flakes, and caramelized red onion, if desired.
- Mix in the rest of the flour gradually, working the dough with your hands or stand mixer when it becomes too stiff to stir.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will be somewhat stickier and more craggy-looking than usual, due to all the extra ingredients.
- Pour 3–4 teaspoons of oil into the bowl. Turn the ball of dough around in the oil until the outer layer of the dough has been thinly coated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm, damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot to rise.
- Allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2–2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk.
- Punch out some air and allow the dough to rise for another hour.
- Separate the challah. (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/633188/jewish/The-Separation-of-Challah.htm)
- Divide the dough and braid or shape as desired. Place shaped loaves on lined baking sheets.
- Brush each challah with olive oil immediately after braiding.
- Allow challahs to rise for an additional 30–45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Glaze challahs again with olive oil. Sprinkle on rosemary leaves, red chilli flakes, and coarse salt for garnish. (Go easy on the chili pepper and salt—a little goes a long way!)
- Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. (For a medium challah, time will vary according to challah size.)
- The challah is fully baked when its underside is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.
- Place on cooling rack to cool.
This is an infused oil dip that goes well with the Kalamata rosemary challah (above) and many other challahs as well. Let it sit in your fridge for a while. The oil takes on all the flavors and is spectacular!
To taste, red chili pepper flakes, thinly sliced fresh garlic, Himalayan salt, and finely chopped rosemary leaves
Add extra virgin olive oil, to cover.
Store tightly covered I the fridge for up to two weeks. The olive oil will solidify in the fridge; this is normal. Take out a few minutes before serving to allow the olive oil to return to room temperature and become liquid.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org