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From the Morning Minyan Ladies, Recipes Tried and True

January 5, 2012 By:
Ethel Hofman, Jewish Exponent Feature
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THE JEWISH KITCHEN

Early Wednesday morning is my special time. At 7:30 a.m., I get into my car and drive the short distance to Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El in Wynnewood. There, I join my morning minyan ladies, all of us who make up a minyan for morning services led by Cantor Eugene Rosen (who occasionally joins us for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.)

The melodies and prayers are familiar and soothing, the atmosphere peaceful. This is when I can contemplate and reflect. There are no distractions in this quiet, peaceful chapel. It's an inspiring and meaningful start to my day.

This group of women goes back more than 25 years and, as happens with the passing of time, memories of how it all started vary. Discussing it at a recent "after minyan breakfast," it was recalled that the late Ruth Maltzman, the rebbitzin, encouraged the women of the congregation to be part of synagogue activities.

When Dr. Bob Steiner became the chairman of the religious committee, his wife, Marilyn, got together with other synagogue women to form the quorum (10 adults) needed to form a minyan for morning services. It was decided that Wednesday would be the day.

There's a special connection and friendship in doing this mitzvah (in order for Kaddish to be recited at public services, there must be a quorum). Women who have come to say Kaddish for a loved one often continue to attend, drawn by the camaraderie and warmth.

These ladies also cook. And after Wednesday morning services, we get together for breakfast to catch up.

The conversation varies, with support offered wherever needed. From my minyan ladies, I've found my hairdresser and dentist. I always know I can depend on their recommendations.

Whenever I have to be out of town, I miss those Wednesday mornings. That's because my morning minyan ladies have become the core of my friendships and my attachment to Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El.

Here are some special recipes from some special women.

Cumish Bread
(Pareve) 

From Flora Schnall. There are hundreds of recipes for these little crisp cookies, but Flora's recipe yields some of the best I've ever sampled. She spells it with "c" instead of "k" as is more usual.

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsps. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup white raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the raisins, nuts and chocolate chips. Stir to mix. Make a well in center and add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Divide mixture into four equal parts. Shape into 4 small loaves. Place the loaves onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 35 minutes. Cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 40 slices.

Strawberry Bread
(Pareve)

From Carole Bowers. Carole brought this fruit-flavored, slightly dense loaf to dinner one evening. It was so delicious I immediately asked for the recipe. Serve with coffee or toasted for breakfast. Freezes very well.

2 packages (10 oz.) frozen strawberries, slightly defrosted
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries in two batches. Pour into a large bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir well to mix thoroughly. Batter will be fairly stiff. Divide mixture equally between the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.

Makes 2 loaves.

Thai Salad
(Pareve)

From Ellen Siegel. Besides the good taste, Ellen says the best thing about this is it's an almost instant salad. She's right.

2 packages Ramen noodle soup mix (traditional style)
1 package (16 oz.) cole slaw mix
2 oz. sesame seeds
4 oz. shredded almonds
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin orange segments
1/2 cup sesame oil
4 Tbsps. vinegar
5 Tbsps. sugar

Break up the noodles into a large bowl. Add the packaged spices included in the soup mix. Add all the remaining ingredients and toss to mix well. Chill and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Cranberry Sauce With Figs and Malaga Wine
(Pareve)

From Ellyn Stern. Ellyn notes that this is not just for Thanksgiving. Serve it with chicken for Shabbat. It's a sauce that would go well with any fish or meat dish.

12/3 cups sweet Malaga wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup golden or dark brown sugar, packed
8 dried black Mission figs, stems removed and chopped
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 sprig (6-inches long) fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. Thanksgiving spice
1 bag (12 oz.) cranberries
3/4 cup sugar

Place the wine, vinegar, brown sugar, figs, pepper and rosemary or spice in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the rosemary.

Add the cranberries and sugar and stir to mix. Cook over medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and berries burst, about 6 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Transfer to a bowl. Serve chilled. May be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated.

Chicken Marsala
(Meat)

From Elaine Beck. Elaine says, "I know this recipe by heart -- you can't mess it up and you can add more amounts of any ingredient."

3 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 chicken cutlets, skinless and boneless
3 Tbsps. pareve margarine
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsps. Marsala wine
2/3 cup beef, chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a shallow dish, combine the flour and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the mixture, coating all sides.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and margarine over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Remove chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to pan and saute over low heat till tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until lightly brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Return chicken to pan and stir in the Marsala wine and stock.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces by about one third.

Serves 4.

Pineapple Gelatin Mold
(Dairy)

From Ethel G. Hofman. I first tasted this at a Florida dinner party and was amazed when the hostess, Toby Lowenstein, told me how quickly she had whipped it up using this unusual method. My friend Stacey tosses in a handful of walnuts.

1 can (15 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 package (3 oz.) strawberry or raspberry gelatin
1 container (8 oz.) whipped topping
2-3 Tbsps. small curd cottage cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
berries to garnish

Place the pineapple into a medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and add the strawberry gelatin, stirring until completely dissolved. Refrigerate to cool. Stir in the whipped topping, cottage cheese and nuts (optional).

Spray an 8- to 10-cup jello mold with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon in the pineapple mixture. Refrigerate until set, 4 to 6 hours. Turn out onto a platter and garnish with berries.

Serves 8 to 10.

Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Email her at: ethelhof@aol.com.

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