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November 2006

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The Kosher Table
Lisa Tuttle

Lisa Kelvin Tuttle.


A Touch of Sweetness for Mar Cheshvan
Cremslach, Rugelach, Butterballs, and Murgle Gurgle.

-- Lisa Kelvin Tuttle

As the Hebrew month of Tishrei builds, we are instructed by the rabbis to become filled to the brim with simcha and the sweetness of the festivals that follow our days of awe. This spiritual bank account is to sustain us throughout the year and to help us persevere all the way through Elul of the year that follows. Though Cheshvan is not the only month in our history to have held hard times for the Jewish people — it is possibly the month of the start of the great flood that destroyed the entire known world, the month of Jacob's beloved wife Rachel's death, and the month in which Kristalnacht occurred — Cheshvan happens to be the only month of the Jewish year without a festival (Chanukah, the next Jewish holiday to follow Simchat Torah falls in Kislev), and so has been dubbed mar — bitter.

My antidote to bitterness has always been, well, sweetness! Comfort foods and treats — though best enjoyed fully but sparingly — do add to our feelings of peace and pleasure. The recipes that follow come from my own little treasure trove, a shoe box labeled ?Recipes? in my mother's handwriting, busting at the seams with ageing clippings from newspapers and magazines, tattered index cards, and photocopied favorites from friends. For the many years my mom and I lived on opposite coasts, a batch of clippings would arrive in the mail every month or so, and then I would return the favor, sending my latest finds to her. Many of these recipes are pulled out for special occasions and all of them are goodies that my family and I love.

Until we eat again . . .

Lisa

Lisa Kelvin Tuttle has professional experience in the gourmet, catering, and health-food fields, as well as being an experienced kosher camp cook. Her greatest pleasure, though, is cooking Shabbos dinner for family and friends. She is Communications Director for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and resides with her husband, Alan, and sons Adam and Jeremy in Wynnewood.

All questions concerning the kashrut of the establishments featured in this column should be directed to your rabbi. 

Cremslach

This dish began as Passover breakfast fare, but my children love these light, creamy matzoh latkes (cremslach means ?creamies?) so much, that it is their most requested comfort food. The recipe was given to me by a friend in college, passed down from his mother, and hers before, going back who knows how far. Though the measurements are inexact, I relay everything exactly as it was transmitted to me (punctuation and Step 5 footnote included). The page my treasured recipe is written on is splattered and practically falling apart, attesting to how often it has been pulled out of the shoe box.

  • About 5 eggs
  • Matzo meal
  • Sugar
  • Cottage cheese (or Farmer cheese)
  • Lemon juice
  1. Separate eggs into whites and yolks. Whip whites until firm.
  2. Combine yolks with about cup cottage cheese, about cup sugar, and about cup matzo meal and mix well. Add lemon (drops) to mixture. Mixture should have the consistency of mud the day after a heavy rain, and not be too sweet (lemon juice modifies the sweetness of sugar).
  3. Transfer whipped whites into bowl of yolk mixture, and sir carefully. Don't make the whites go "flat".
  4. Once the batter is pretty well mixed, drop (spoon by spoon) into a frying pan or onto a griddle. Make as you make pancakes. (Lisa's note: I fry these until golden in a small amount of half butter-half vegetable oil, since butter alone has a low heating point and would burn. Use a gentle hand when you turn them.)
  5. See Deuteronomy, Chapter 11, Verse 15.

Traditional Rugelach

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 packages (8-ounce size) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cups confectioners? sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 1 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  1. In a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed, cream the first three ingredients until well blended. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually beat in the flour. Divide dough into four pieces; wrap each piece in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to two weeks.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll one piece of dough into a long rectangle about 20-by-10 inches. Leaving a -inch border, spread the dough with a thin layer of jam, then sprinkle with of the nuts.
  3. Starting at one long side, roll into a log, gently tucking and tightening as you go. Sprinkle lightly all over with cinnamon sugar.
  4. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Place on ungreased baking sheets, seam-side down. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Variation: For half of the dough, substitute this filling for the apricot jam and walnuts: combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, cup finely chopped nuts, and to cup raisins and sprinkle evenly on the rolled out dough. Then continue with step 3.

Yields about 80 rugalach.

Mocha Nut Butterballs

  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 cups confectioners? sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually beat in the flour and chopped nuts. (At this point the dough may be wrapped and frozen for up to two weeks.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool for five minutes on baking sheets. Roll in confectioners? sugar again.
  3. Careful, they're addictive.

Yields about 72 cookies.

Murgle Gurgle

This comforting warm drink of milk and honey has been given by generations of Bubbies to soothe sore throats, tummies, and spirits. A kind of Jewish eggnog or hot toddy, my mother gave it to me and my sisters (without the brandy) whenever we were home sick from school, and now my own kids ask for a Murgle Gurgle whenever they want a little extra nurturing. I've also seen it called "Guggle Muggle" and other variations. Though I don't know its true origin (I always thought my own Grandma made it up), I have spotted mentions of the drink on various Jewish and cold-remedy websites.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon or more of brandy (optional)
  • Dash of nutmeg
  1. In a mug, heat milk to hot but not boiling (about 1 minute in most microwave ovens).
  2. Add the egg yolk, honey, and brandy if using and stir briskly with a fork to fully incorporate the egg yolk into the milk. Alternately --- especially if you are doubling or tripling the recipe --- combine in a blender.
  3. Add a dash of nutmeg to the top and serve with love.

Previously on the Kosher Table