Tuesday, January 7, 2014
TWD December 2013 (Challah and Gingersnaps)
I was raised as a Conservative Jew. I went to a Jewish high school and while we were less observant than most of the families at school (we almost never went to synagogue except for on major holidays), we did celebrate the holidays and Friday nights were always special. My brother and I were not allowed to go out until after dinner on Fridays and we always ate dinner at home as a family. My mother always made a special meal and dessert, and either made or bought Challah. My dad loves to remind me that at one point I declared Challah and whipped cream as my two favorite foods. I don't remember saying it--I do remember declaring multiple times that I could live on Challah and butter--but it certainly sounds like something I would say. I love a good Challah.
Although Charlotte's definitely too young to notice, and often asleep before dinner, since she's been born I've been making more of an effort to make Friday nights special. I'm off work on Fridays, so I normally try to bake or buy Challah (unless I'm lucky and we already have some in the freezer), and we say the prayers over the candles, wine (usually grape juice in our house), and bread before eating dinner.
On this particular Friday I was very excited about baking Challah, although somewhat bemused that I had planned scallops with spinach and (turkey) bacon to go with it. I (obviously) don't keep Kosher, and am by no means a perfect Jew! (Incidentally I've made this scallops recipe a few times now and really like it. It's very quick and easy, and a real crowd-pleaser. People fought over it when I made it at my in-laws for Christmas one year.) Since the recipe made two loaves of bread I decided to follow the recipe's braiding instructions for one, and make my usual six-strand braid for the other. It's hard to see from the picture, but the bottom loaf--which was the six-strand braid--made a higher, and much prettier, bread. All in all, I'm glad I tried this recipe, and appreciate any impetus to bake my own bread, but I think I'll be going back to my usual recipe and technique in the future.
I love all things ginger. I love ginger bread, ginger cake, ginger ice cream, and ginger creme brulee. The only soda I like is ginger ale, although I prefer ginger beer (also non-alcoholic, just more gingery and less sweet). I've made these ginger muffins, and recently made a very good pumpkin cheesecake tart with a gingersnap crust. These would made my top 5 list of favorite cookies, and one of my very favorite ice creams is a David Lebovitz recipe for lemon ice cream with ginger speculoos cookies mixed in. These ginger snaps? We certainly enjoyed them, but I doubt I'll be making them again. They weren't snappy enough for my taste, and just writing this paragraph has made me hungry for all of my favorite ginger recipes that I already know I like.