About My Blog.

Welcome! This is "Catatonic Digressions."
Most, if not all readers don't understand my blog's title. It's an old inside joke from a forum long gone. I was going to change it, but since it's been "confusing" for so long, I decided to leave it. Don't worry about what it means, the content of the blog is what is important.

Unfortunately, my blog isn't what I set out for it to be. A disturbed and manic online stalker and cyberbully has made it impossible for me to post about family, my son, life in my part of New York...so I stopped (for the most part), and I mostly reblog and repost what I feel is important, necessary or close to my heart. As for the stalking sociopath, she can go to hell for harassing me and my family since mid-2008. You can't scare me offline with a few lame threats and dozens of pages of defamation, abuse, depravity and libel. I'm bitchy like that. ;)
(Anyone who knows me knows I'm not actually a bitch, but let's allow this psychopath to think I'm a bitch to her blackened heart's content—it seems to make her feel she has some sort of control over me…and it does not.)

If you read a story and you feel moved in any way, comment. Comments are more than welcome.

Unlike those online who lie and hide behind fake photos and insanely fabricated stories, I'm a real person. I'm real and I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. After years of putting up with online abuse by manipulative, pathological liars, attention whores or narcissists, I've had it. Don't bother me with pathetic drama. I have no time for these types of people and their need to absorb others' time and attention.

Feel free to email me if you have a story or cause you would like shared, especially if it pertains to animal rights, liberation, veganism, animal welfare, health and well-being, geekery, Macs and computer dorkiness, music, lowbrow art, kitchy stuff, skateboards, the beach, swimming, diving, NYC, beading (it's my hobby), recipes (love to cook, especially if I made the recipe up myself!), VEGAN!, ALF, Sea Shepherd, Action for Animals, NIO, 269Life and/or anything you think I might enjoy or others might—you never know. It doesn't always have to be serious. Hilarious stories, local NY, funny videos or photos, photobombs (especially if they contain pets!)...I might be partially censored, but I'm not closed down!

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For the Oceans,
Suzanne

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Jewish Learning: Recipe: Pizza Ebraica di Erbe


My Jewish Learning: Recipe: Pizza Ebraica di Erbe

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Recipe: Pizza Ebraica di Erbe

Double-crusted vegetable pie

Reprinted with permission from Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen (Chronicle Books).

Called a Jewish-style pizza, this dish probably has its origins in the Italian south. Here the word pizza is related to the Greek pitta, a name for filo pies and a term still in use in Apulia, where many dishes reflect a Greek heritage. This recipe calls for pasta frolla salata, a short pastry that gives it a wonderful richness.

SERVES 8

For the Pastry

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 to 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter or margarine

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 to 4 tablespoons water, or as needed

For the Filling

Juice of 1 lemon

3 large or 5 medium artichokes

Olive oil

1 large onion, diced

I large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1 pound beet greens or spinach, coarsely chopped

2 pounds English peas, shelled (about 2 cups shelled)

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Olive oil or lightly beaten egg for coating pastry

To make the pastry, stir together the flour and salt in a bowl or in the container of a food processor. Cut in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in the egg and as much water as needed for the dough to come together into a rough ball. Divide the dough in into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other, and flatten each portion into a disk. Place the disks in a plastic bag and refrigerate for one hour.

To make the filling, have ready a large bowl filled with water to which you have added the lemon juice. Working with one artichoke at a time, remove the stems and all the leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Pare away the dark green areas from the base. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the choke from each half. Then cut each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and drop into the lemon water to prevent discoloration.

Pour enough olive oil into a large sauté pan to form a film on the bottom and place over medium heat. Add the onion and parsley and sauté three to four minutes. Drain the artichokes and add to the pan along with the greens and peas. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook slowly until the mixture is almost dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool, and season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix in the eggs.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger pastry disk into an l1-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Spoon in the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry disk in the same way into a 10-inch round. Carefully place over the filling. Trim any excessive over hang, then turn under the pastry edges and pinch together. Cut a few steam vents in the top crust, then brush with olive oil or beaten egg.

Bake until the crust is golden, 30 to 40 min utes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

If you are worried about the bottom crust becoming soggy, sprinkle a thin layer of fine dried bread crumbs over the pastry before adding the filling. Alternatively, blind bake the bottom crust for 15 minutes, lining it with pie weights, let cool, and then add the filling.

This vegetable filling is suitable for making scacchi, a matzah pie. Use it in place of the meat filling, and substitute vegetable broth for the meat broth.

Joyce Goldstein

Joyce Goldstein is the author of many cookbooks and also works as a consultant to restaurants and cooking instructor.




Book can be purchased at Amazon.com

Overview: Sephardic Cuisine

Sephardic cuisine refers to the foods eaten by a large and diverse group of Jews that bear the unique stamp of their regions of origin, which include Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, Egypt, and Turkey. Italian, Indian, and other non-European Jewish foods are also sometimes included in this mix.

There is logic to this broad grouping: Almost all of these lands were part of the Islamic world. The Arab conquest of the 7th and 8th centuries united land from the Iberian peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean to China and India. Active trading went on between these lands, spreading new food all over the region. Eggplant from India, spinach from Nepal, and spices from the Near East are examples of foods that spread throughout the Islamic empire.

Jews participated actively in Islamic society. They were successful in cultural, political, and financial arenas. Thus Sephardic cuisine often represents refined, even aristocratic, food. Besides the quality of the food, the Jews of the Islamic world stressed quantity as well. Asceticism was not valued, and lifecycle celebrations such as circumcisions and weddings were lengthy and luxurious.

Cookbooks that cataloged medical advice alongside recipes were a common genre of literature in the Muslim world. The 13th-century Cookbook of the Maghreb and Andalusia, one of the most important of these books, lists five Jewish recipes. All of these are full of spices and aromas and are detailed in their ingredients and preparation. One such dish, a chicken with giblets, was made with, among other things, fennel stalks, coriander, oil, citron leaves, eggs, flour, and chicken liver. The dish is first roasted and then left to sit in murri—a fermented condiment used in medieval cooking—vinegar, rose water, onion juice, and spices. All the dishes in the book, including the Jewish ones, exhibit delicate attention to flavor, texture, and presentation. Jews also authored recipe and dietetics books. Isaac Israelicus’ 10th centuryBook of Foods was translated into Latin in the 15th century and used in medical schools until the 17th century.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, most made their way to North Africa and Ottoman lands such as Turkey and the Balkans. Half of the North African Jews lived in Morocco, and the Jewish style of food that was common there is still considered one of Morocco’s four national food styles. The Jews who settled in the Ottoman lands were typically upper class, and their foods resembled the foods of the urban nobility. The kebabs, pilafs and dolmades (stuffed vegetables) of Turkish Jewry are still some of the most recognizable Sephardic dishes.

Fruits, vegetables, spices, and grains were plentiful in the Mediterranean climate, and thus plant foods figured heavily into Sephardic cuisine. Indeed, Jews were responsible for spreading the use of certain plant foods. Italian Jews prepared artichoke in an innovative way. Leeks and fennel, first used in Jewish cooking, were also later used in non-Jewish cooking in the area. Meats were eaten by Mediterranean Jews, but--except for Shabbat (the Sabbath)--fish was more often on the menu.

The Sephardic Jewish communities began to decline in the 18th century. Colonialism and natural disaster hit these communities hard and, on the whole, the Sephardic communities became impoverished. Nonetheless, Sephardic cuisine still retains the character of its unique heritage, a panoply of foods from many different lands that reflect an intense intermingling of cultures that were often well-to-do and sophisticated. It is difficult to identify particular Sephardic foods as Spanish or Greek or Arab. The movement of the Sephardic community and the unique blending of cultures gave rise to an assimilated and variegated cuisine.

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