Saturday, July 20, marked the start of a significantly sad time for Jews everywhere: the Three Weeks.
The Three Weeks is a time of mourning in Judaism, bookended by the major fasts of Shiva Asur B’Tamuz and Tisha B’Av. On these respective dates, the first and second Temples of Jerusalem were destroyed by Jewish enemies, sending the Jewish people into exile. This year, the Three Weeks is from Saturday, July 20 to Saturday, August 10.
During this time period, there are certain acts one does not do to “lessen the extent of our rejoicing,” as the Chabad describes it. Similar to those one does not participate in when mourning a family member, these acts include no haircuts, no celebrating of simchot (i.e. bnei mitzvah, wedding), playing instruments or listening to recorded music (a capella is okay, though!). The last nine days of these three weeks take on an extra status of mourning. During this time, extra acts are taken on – particularly, no consuming meat or wine.
We’ve pulled together our three favorite recipes for you to try out during this time. Give them a try
and be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org pictures of the results!
Challah Breakfast Casserole
From Jew Hungry
1 medium sweet potato (2 cups cubed)
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper, divided
2 c. broccoli (frozen or fresh will do)
8 oz. stale challah (7-8 thick slices)
8 oz. sliced or shredded fontina, divided
1 Tbsp minced chives
5 large eggs
3/4 c. 2% milk
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Peel and cut the sweet potato into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss them with the onion, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan, and roast until the sweet potatoes are tender, 18-20 minutes. Add chopped broccoli about 10 minutes into cooking so they get a bit of the roast.
Once done, place the broccoli, sweet potatoes and onions in a bowl. Next, add the cubed challah to the bowl, along with 4 oz. of cheese and chives. Toss the mixture until well combined.
Lightly grease a 9×9” (or 2 1/2 quart) baking dish. Scoop the bread mixture into the pan, evenly distributing the broccoli and sweet potatoes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy whipping cream, nutmeg and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour over the bread mixture, pressing down on the bread to submerge it completely in the egg mixture. Cover with foil and let sit for at least 20 minutes so that bread can have time to absorb the eggs, milk and cream.
Change oven temperature to 350˚F. Bake the covered casserole for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with remaining 2 oz. of cheese, and continue to bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the casserole has puffed and the cheese is browning. Top with an extra sprinkle of chives before serving.
Cheese and Herb Rugelach
From The Nosher on My Jewish Learning
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 c. flour, sifted
12 oz. ricotta cheese, drained
2 heads of garlic, roasted
1 sprig of each: rosemary, oregano and thyme (or your favorite fresh herbs), removed from stems and chopped finely
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, whisked
To caramelize garlic, cut each head of garlic in half and wrap halves in tin foil. Roast garlic in the oven at 400˚F for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic is tender and caramelized. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
DOUGH: Use a stand mixer and beat together the cream cheese and butter until creamy on medium speed. Add Parmesan cheese and lemon zest and continue to mix until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the sifted flour and mix just until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters and wrap each quarter in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
FILLING: Mix together the ricotta cheese, chopped herbs and caramelized garlic. Make sure to remove the soft cloves by squeezing the bulb and adding the soft garlic cloves to the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Take one dough-ball out of fridge (leaving others chilled until ready to use) and on a well-floured surface, roll it out using a floured rolling pin. Roll it out to about 9” in diameter. Use a round object (a cheesecake pan works well), outline a circle, then use a knife to cut a perfect circle. Save scraps to roll out later.
Spread 2 Tb of cheese mixture onto the dough in a thin layer, leaving a border. Then cut the circle into eighths.
Roll the rugelach by starting at the outer end of the triangle and roll in making a little crescent shape. Place all rugelach end side down on a lined baking sheet, brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle each one with sea salt.
Bake at 350˚F for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
From My Recipes
If you watch Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” you’ll recognize the name of this dish from the season 2 episode “Big Little Lies.” For those who haven’t, tahdig is a classic Persian pan-fried rice dish. There are many ways to make it, all of which are delicious!
4 c. water
1 c. long-grain basmati rice
1/2 c. plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt OR parve sour cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp crushed saffron threads
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter OR margarine
2 tsp canola oil
Place 4 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain.
Combine the yogurt OR sour cream, salt and saffron in a medium bowl. Add the rice to yogurt mixture, stirring well.
Melt the butter in a medium nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan surface. Add the rice mixture to the pan, lightly packing the rice down. Wrap a dry dish towel around the pan lid, tying it at the handle, then place the prepared lid on the pan. Cook rice, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes (do not stir or uncover). Reduce temperature to medium-low. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until rice is tender on top and a golden crust forms on the bottom.
Loosen the rice crust with a rubber spatula around the edges. Place a plate over the top of the pan and invert the rice onto the plate, browned side up. Cut into 6 wedges, and serve immediately.