Wednesday is Purim. It is the celebration of the survival of the Jews and the thwarting of the cruel and ambitious plans of the Persian Minister, Haman. The events are recorded in the book of Esther and every year a festival is held to remember this brave woman and her kinsman Mordechai. During the festival the name of Haman is drowned out when ever uttered by rattles, shouts, and the like. Also special treats are eaten, some of which are called Hamantaschen, which are symbolic of evil Haman’s triangular hat.
This recipe can be made as proper hamantachen, or as a very nice small tart or biscuit. With apologies to Esther, and to biblical purists, I offer this recipe “for such a time as this.”
Poppy Treats (some triangular, some round)
- Poppy Seeds 3 Tbs
- Honey 3 Tbs
- Butter 1 1/2 Tbs
- Salt large pinch
- Raisins 5 Tbs
- Eggs 1
- Stevia 3 rounded Tbs (or 1/2 cup sugar)
- Oil 3 Tbs
- Vanilla Essence 1 tsp
- Plain Flour 1 1/4 cups
- Baking Powder 1 tsp
- Salt 1/8 tsp
- Water 1 to 3 Tsp (if needed)
In a large bowl whisk together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Using a spoon, stir in flour, and dry ingredients. Stir until it begins to form a crumbly dough. Now manually kneed this together adding small splashes of water (as needed) to form a consistent cookie dough. Set aside. In another bowl, cream together the honey, butter and salt, then add the seeds and raisins. For a smoother filling these can be whipped together in a food processor (optional). Now roll out the dough to about 1/5 to 1/4 inch thick (about .5 cm). Use a drinking glass to cut the dough into circles. Place 1 tsp of the poppy mixture in the centre of each circle, (and if you want a traditional hamantaschen, fold the edges of each cookie to form a triangular shape – but do not totally enclose the filling). Or as a cookie/tart be sure filling is well centred as it will spread while baking. Place on a lightly greased flat baking sheet, and place in oven at 175 C / 350 F for 15 – 20 minutes. If you have made dough on the thick end it may take a few extra minutes.
This is a “Bible Foods” inspired sandwich which can also fall under the “veggie” recipe genre as well. This is a tasty Mediterranean option in which the saltiness of the cheese compliments the yogurt and the bite of the mustard and garlic round out the flavours.
- Feta Cheese 200 g
- Greek Style Yogurt 1 Cup
- Black Olives 10
- Green Olives 10
- Red (Kalamata) Olives 10
- Garlic 1-2 cloves (according to taste)
- Dijon Mustard 1 tsp
Sandwich Mak’ins bit –
- Wheat Wrap or Pita Bread
- Lettuce 1/2 cup (shredded) [optional]
Finely slice or grate the garlic, and slice pitted olives into thin slices. Place garlic and olives into a mixing bowl. Cube the cheese into 1/8 to 1/4 inch squares and add to the bowl. Add yogurt and mustard and gently stir mixture. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and let flavours meld for at least an hour in a cool place (fridge). Place wrap on a flat surface (or cut a slit into pita), and place a small portion of lettuce (if used) into the bread. Then add 3-4 Tbs of feta-olive mixture and wrap (if using wrap).
Let me first acknowledge that sheep and goats seemed a more regular feature of biblical diets, than was beef. That said beef is a kosher meat (Lev. 11) and is acknowledged as being eaten (I Kings 4:23). Best of all, this recipe was enjoyed by my wife.
- Beef 200 grams (I used chopped organic steak)
- Olives 6 large firm green (I used Spanish Queen variety)
- Carrot 1/2 [Used in Roman cookery].
- Garlic 2 cloves
- Olive oil (2 Tbs)
- Oregano 1/2 to 1 tsp depending on taste [Oregano is not mentioned in the Bible but was common in both Greek and Roman cookery].
- Beef stock 1/2 cup
Sear beef in a pan in a little olive oil and salt. Oil bottom of a slow cooker dish with oil and add beef. Dice the carrot and garlic. Slice pitted olives into rings. Put carrot, garlic and olives into dish and then sprinkle with oregano. Pour beef stock over meat and veg and cook on low setting 3 hours. [It necessary to thicken or as a matter of taste a Tbs of (anachronistic) tomato paste can be stirred in before serving.
An additional non-biblical (non-Roman) ingredient is 1/2 a red pepper diced small and added with the carrot and garlic. We have tried the recipe both ways, and found it equally nice (just different).
This made one large bowl of stew (as I am pescatarian), so ingredients may need doubling for family fare.
“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5).” Leeks, onions, and garlic are among the foods the Hebrew children looked back on from their time in Egypt. These savoury foods while basic to use today make a wonderful side dish with fish or fowl.
Leeks with Roman Mustard:
- Leeks 5 Medium
- Spring Onions 3
- Garlic 2 cloves
- Olive Oil splash
- Salt to taste
- Roman Mustard 2-3 Tbs [Recipe] (Commercial whole grain prepared mustard will work in a pinch as well).
Cut base and tops off leeks and discard along with tough outer layers. Then slice lengthwise into strips and rinse thoroughly. Peel garlic and dice along with onions and shallow fry in olive oil sprinkled with a little salt. When tender stir in 2 Tbs of Roman mustard mixture and warm through.
Dairy variation: Prepare as above, but stir in 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta along with mustard. Be sure to mix well and bring to warm, but do not overheat or cheese will become runny.
I hope you enjoy it.
Here is another recipe inspired by biblical times and by Roman cookery. It is a variation on Apicius, and an amalgamation of features of several modern adaptions. It is a nice sauce. It is a little too strong a taste to use with the Honey Almond Fish (for my liking) but could be used if you prefer the stronger flavour. It is good with leeks and as a general condiment, however.
- 1 cup Mustard seeds
- 1/4 Cup Pine nuts
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Wine Vinegar
Grind mustard seeds, pine nuts, salt, and garlic in food processor or mortar. Poor water onto the ground mixture and let stand for 15 minutes, then mix in vinegar. Place into a covered jar (not air tight) for 24 to 36 hours.
Remember this can used as both a condiment and as a cooking ingredient. Let me know how it works out.
Olives at Gethsemane
My last Bible recipe was for salmon and almonds. This dish is along the same lines, using Kosher fish, olives, and herbs available in the Holy Land. It is a very different flavour to the honey glaze of the salmon and almonds, and a much stronger taste.
- White Fish (Hake or Pollock) – 2 fillets (100-150 g each)
- Mixed Olives 250 g (1/2 Cup) (I used Spanish Queen and Kalamata varieties) [These need to be firm and pitted]
- Garlic Cloves 2 large
- Parsley (leaves only) – handful
- Basil – a few leaves
- Olive Oil – 1/4 cup extra virgin
- Black Pepper
Use 2 tsp of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the tagine. Place fish into oil, and then flip. Dust lightly with ground black pepper. Place lid on tagine and set heat to low.
Put olives, peeled garlic, parsley and basil in food processor and blend till crumbly mix. Slowly mix in remaining olive oil until a paste. Remove lid of tagine and spoon 2-3 TBS of olive mix onto each fillet (reserve any left over olive mix). Add 2 TBS of water to tagine and replace lid and allow to cook 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 190 C (350 F). Place a large sheet of foil into baking pan and oil with 2 tsp of olive oil. Place fish onto oiled foil and drizzle a small amount of extra oil. Sprinkle with black pepper.
Put olives, peeled garlic, parsley and basil in food processor and blend till crumbly mix. Slowly mix in remaining olive oil until a paste. Spoon 2-3 TBS onto each fillet, and then fold foil into “tent.” Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Serve with vegetables using any additional olive mix as a condiment.
Please share how you get on.
Here I go again with the recipes. I need to first acknowledge that salmon (the fish in the recipe) is not mentioned in the scriptures, though it is considered Kosher as a “clean fish [Lev. 11].”
I was looking for something a little different for dinner and as a pescetarian was looking beyond just the veggie options. So here is a recipe which honours (if not equates to) biblical fare.
- 2 Salmon Fillets (100 – 150 g each) [Leviticus 11:9]
- Honey 2 TBS [Proverbs 24:13]
- Wholegrain Mustard (prepared) 1 TBS [the Bible reference is difficult as the reference may not be of the exact type we would call mustard today, though our mustard was common in Roman cookery – Luke 17:6]
- Dijon Mustard (prepared) 1 heaped tsp [Luke 17:6]
- Slivered Almonds 1 heaped tsp [Numbers 17:8]
- Salt – just a pinch [Mark 9:50]
- Olive oil – just a splash [1 Kings 17:12]
Preheat oven to 190 C /350 F. Place a large piece of foil into an oven pan and lightly rub with olive oil. Place the fish skin side down onto the oiled foil, and gently rub a pinch of salt into each fillet. In a bowl mix the honey and mustards, then spoon the mixture onto the fish, spreading it evenly. Then place the almonds onto the honey coated fish. Make a “tent” of the foil, and then place in the oven for 15 minutes.
Carefully open the foil tent and serve fish using a spatula to life it from underneath to leave the mustard grain and almond coating intact.
As always, let me know how you get on with it.
The pomegranate is a fascinating Biblical fruit. I have posted before on foods from the Bible (see Glory-of-the-Humble-Olive ) as well as a couple of recipe blogs. Today, I will take a slightly different tack with this, and mix a Bible bit with a recipe bit.
There is a lot of Biblical lore on the pomegranate. Some have suggested that it was the forbidden fruit of Genesis (rather than the apple). Others have held that the fruit contained 613 seeds, and as such was the embodiment of the mitzvas of the Torah. Its image was woven into the hem of the robe of the high priest in Exodus 28:33-34.
If nothing else there is the fact on the foodie front, that it is one of the seven special fruits mentioned in the Deuteronomy.
So here is the (I think fourth) installment of Bible Foods recipes. This time featuring mint and the pomegranate.
Pomegranate and Mint Cooler [A cooling iced tea-like drink.]
- 1 Large handful of fresh Mint leaves
- 600 ml Water
- 200 ml Pomegranate Juice
- Honey or sweetener (to taste)
Bring water to the boil and add the mint leaves, steep until water takes on pale minty colour. Add sweetening and allow to cool. Add pomegranate juice and pour over ice. Makes approximately 2 glasses.
Pome-almond Drink [This is a tasty drink that has a lovely aftertaste of mint, after an initial smoothness.]
- Seeds of 1/2 Pomegranate
- 500 ml Almond Milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 250 ml Pomegranate Juice
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried Mint (depending on taste)
- 1 TBS Honey (if using unsweetened almond)
Simply place all ingredients into a blender and process for about 2 minutes for all seeds to be ground. Makes about three glasses worth. I had this with dinner last night and found it very pleasant.
As always let me know how you get on.
This is the third of my posts on biblical food recipes. Today I will consider non-alcoholic versions of raisin wine, and Roman passum.
Raisin wine was known at least as far back as 800 BCE. It is a sweet, sometimes almost syrupy drink and is a nice after dinner treat. The prevailing modern recipes for it, take up to 12 days to prepare (and risk some alcohol production), but there are some simpler ones as well.
- 1 pound (450 grams) raisins or saltanas,
- 1/2 of a lemon
- 1/2 pound (225 grams) sugar or 1 to 1 1/2 cups honey (depending on taste)
- 3 litres water
Place the raisins into a large jar or crockery pot. Finely slice the lemon and pace over the raisins. Then bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar/honey into it, then poor over the fruit. Stir and cover with a cloth. Stir the mixture daily for a week, then strain and bottle. It is ready in 10 to 12 days.
- 1 1/2 pound (675 grams) raisins or saltanas,
- 1/2 of a lemon
- 1/2 pound (225 grams) sugar or 1 to 1 1/2 cups honey
- 3 litres water
- Cinnamon stick optional
Place all the items into a pan and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer (adding cinnamon if used)and allow to slowly evaporate until reduced to 2/3 of original volume [about 2 or 3 days]. Sieve and bottle.
Method Three the Passum method:
Passum was a Roman drink made by re-hydrating raisins in wine. Typically 100 grams of raisins would be used per pint (1/2 litre) of wine. This would be left 2-3 days then sieved.
This however, is a non-alcoholic alternative method.
- 200-300 grams of raisins or saltanas (depending on desired “raisin” taste.
- 1 litre of red or purple grape juice (I prefer Welsh’s for this)
- 1 Tbs honey
Place fruit into and juice into a pan and bring to a boil. Add honey to the cooling mixture, and place onto a large jar or pot. Cover with cloth, and place in a cool place and allow the fruit to absorb as much liquid as possible (about 3 days). Then place into a sieve, and squeeze out as much of the enriched juice as you can. Chill liquid, and serve with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
As always, let me know how you get on.