Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Last weekend, I taught an interactive cooking class with about a dozen young families at my Toronto shul, Congregation Beth Tikvah. It was truly wonderful working together with a group of about 60 grandparents, parents and children as young as six years old.
The theme for this hands-on cooking class was “comfort foods.” Everyone helped prepare the ingredients and the children (as well as some of the husbands) were thrilled to learn new cooking skills. Many of the kids shared that they like to watch the cooking shows on the Food Network. Their enthusiasm was inspiring.
The recipes that we prepared that day were some of my own family’s favourites, dishes that were part of my childhood when I was growing up. I firmly believe that it’s important to pass on family traditions from one generation to the next. Cooking together is a wonderful way to bond with family and friends, creating special memories that will last a lifetime.
I taught the class how to put a different spin on hummus as we added pumpkin puree to the traditional chickpea mixture. Several children took turns assisting me, dropping garlic cloves through the feed tube of the food processor while the machine was running and mincing the garlic perfectly. They learned how to do on/off pulses in order to mix the ingredients together. They smelled each of the spices as we added them to the processor. I showed them how to scoop the hummus into ice cream cones and decorate them with cucumber slices and red pepper strips to make happy faces. We spread the hummus on tortillas, rolled them up and cut them into pinwheels.
The families worked together in teams, chopping vegetables for lentil barley soup and learning how to use a knife properly. They learned how to measure ingredients, including the correct way to measure flour. They learned how to check eggs for blood spots. They mixed up cookie dough for cinnamon twists, forming the dough into circles, their own initials, or whatever shape they wanted. They helped clean up their work areas in between each recipe.
Each family went home with containers of homemade soup, cookie dough and noodle kugel. I’m sure that this Shabbos, there will be a few new sous-chefs in the kitchen, helping their families prepare foods for their Shabbat table!
PUMPKIN HUMMUS (Pareve)
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
A different spin on hummus! They’ll never know this scrumptious spread contains pumpkin. The inspiration for this recipe comes from cookbook author and friend Kathy Guttman. I added chickpeas to pump up the nutritional profile. This makes a big batch, but you can easily make half the recipe for a smaller family.
When I was a guest several years ago on Martha Stewart’s radio show Living Today, hosted by Mario Bosquez, I brought along this scrumptious pumpkin hummus. I served it in miniature ice cream cones and dipped the tops in pumpkin seeds. For a scrumptious variation, use roasted butternut squash instead of pumpkin!
6 cloves garlic (about 2 Tbsp minced)
1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15 oz/425 mL) canned pumpkin (about 2 cups)
2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp smoked or Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 to 2 tsp pure maple syrup (or to taste)
Pumpkin seeds, for garnish
- In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process garlic and parsley until finely minced, about 10 seconds.
- Add chickpeas and process until puréed, about 18 to 20 seconds.
- Add remaining ingredients except pumpkin seeds and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.
- Transfer the puréed pumpkin mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight for maximum flavor. Garnish with pumpkin seeds at serving time.
Yield: About 4 cups. Keeps about 1 week in the refrigerator. Freezes well up to a month.
- Skinny Dip! This hummus is delicious as a dip served with raw vegetables or toasted pita wedges. It’s also scrumptious as a spread on grilled pita bread and sandwiches.
- Wrap-ture! When making wraps, spread tortillas with hummus instead of mayonnaise.
- Frozen Assets! Freeze in 1-cup containers. When needed, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and stir before serving.
LENTIL BARLEY SOUP (Pareve)
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
This simple and delicious soup is high in soluble fibre helps stabilize blood sugar. My mother’s original version contained more starch but I omitted the potatoes and added lentils, bay leaves, and parsley. My Mom’s mantra was, “Eat some soup. It will fill you up!” Make half the recipe if you have a small family or don’t have freezer space.
2 large onions, chopped
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed (about 1 Tbsp minced)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
14 cups vegetable broth (* use water plus 2 Tbsp pareve soup mix)
2 bay leaves (optional)
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- In a large soup pot, combine all ingredients except dill and parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour or until lentils are soft. Stir occasionally.
- Once the lentils are fully cooked, stir in dill and parsley and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaves and adjust seasonings to taste. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water.
Makes about 18 cups. Keeps 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Reheats and/or freezes well.
- Lentils are an excellent source of folate and are filled with fiber. Red lentils melt into the soup and virtually disappear, making it an excellent way to sneak some fiber into your family’s diet.
NORENE’S FAVOURITE CINNAMON TWISTS (Pareve)
Children love these cookies – totally kid-friendly. This recipe originally came from my grandmother, Baba Doba Rykiss z’l, of Winnipeg, who made them for my sister and me when we were growing up, and now we make them for our children and grandchildren. When I asked my Baba for her recipe shortly before she passed away, she gave me the oil measurement as “a yahrtzeit glezeleh” of oil!
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour (approx.)
1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar (1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp cinnamon)
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl or a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine eggs, sugar, and oil; blend well.
- Stir in dry ingredients (or process with quick on/offs). Mix just until a soft dough is formed. Do not overmix or cookies will be tough.
- Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie, roll between your palms to form a pencil-shaped roll. Shape into twists (either a figure-8 or half twist), crescents, rings, your children’s initials, or any shape you like. Kids love to make their own designs.
- Roll each cookie in Cinnamon-Sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until nicely browned. (Baking time depends on size of cookies, which can vary if the children are assisting you.)
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen. Freezes well, if you can put them away quickly enough!
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 [email protected].