Frozen Fruit Treats for Shavuot

Beer Sheva finally has a farmer’s market.
We’ve always had a shuk – the traditional produce market overflowing with vegetables and fruits of the season. But the farmer’s market features local produce, gourmet baked goods and chocolate, artisanal cheese, beer and wine, ice cream, nuts and (of course!) pickles.
At one of the tables I found juicy, fresh-picked tangerines long after the official citrus season was over. A “mom and pop” bakery had a tasty assortment of biscotti-type cookies made with whole grains, nuts and seeds. The chocolate bars, though expensive, were hard to pass up.
My biggest motivation for returning to the market every Friday morning is the strawberries. Locally grown in hanging planters, using bio-insects in place of pesticides, these are some of the tastiest berries I’ve eaten. And they’re still growing several months after nearly all other Israeli-grown strawberries are gone from the market.
After enjoying strawberries in our morning granola, in fruit salads and just plain as dessert or a snack, I decided to try Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. I adapted a recipe that called for whole-milk yogurt, and substituted “Greek-style” 3% fat yogurt instead. Deliciously refreshing, with the wonderfully bright taste of fresh strawberries!
Meanwhile, apricots are now in season. There seems to be an abundant crop this year, and they’re big, juicy and delicious. Knowing that their season is very short, Apricot Sorbet is next on my agenda.
Both of these frozen desserts would be a light and refreshing way to finish 
your holiday meal on Shavuot.
Chag Sameach and B’teavon!
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
1 pound (500 gm) fresh strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup plain Greek-style low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Wash the strawberries and slice them. Place them in a bowl with the sugar and mix well. Cover and let sit at room temperature for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Put the strawberries, their liquid, the yogurt and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. (Some pieces are fine.)
Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour and then freeze in an ice cream maker.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
Apricot Sorbet
2 pounds (1 kilo) fresh ripe apricots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 drops pure almond extract or 2 teaspoons Amaretto liqueur
Pit the apricots and cut each into 4-6 pieces, depending on their size. Cook the apricots and the water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the sugar and let cool to room temperature.
Puree the mixture in a food processor and add the extract or liqueur. Chill the mixture until it’s very cold and freeze it in an ice cream machine.
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
* Frozen desserts, especially the lower-fat ones, tend to become quite solid when they’re stored in the freezer. Let them sit out for a short time before serving, and for best flavor, don’t store them for more than a week or two.
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Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!

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Two New Books

No doubt about it – kosher is “in”, and not just within the kashrut observant community. The popularity of kosher food in the US has soared, as have the number of products now boasting kosher supervision. New kosher cookbooks are following the trend.

I’ve just had a chance to review two of them.

Gil Marks spent years researching material for his fascinating Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. He’s written over 600 pages on every subject related to Jewish food that you could imagine – and many that you’ve probably never heard of. (How about Csipetke, Kharcho and Dukkah?) With much detail, Gil discusses ancient and modern foods from Jewish communities all over the world. This is not a standard cookbook, but many delicious and moderately easy-to-make recipes are included.

Although the book cover is absolutely gorgeous, smatterings of black and white photographs don’t make this a glamorous read. In fact, it’s not a “read through” kind of book at all, unless reading encyclopedias are your thing. But I’ve been making my way through it slowly, enjoying it immensely and already using it as the exceptionally well-written and interesting reference it’s meant to be.

The Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer is a glamorously designed book with an eye-catching cover and top-notch color photographs throughout. It’s organized by preparation time, rather than type of food, which I found a bit awkward.

The premise of Paula’s book is that you can re-do any of those gorgeously fancy dairy baked goods you’ve drooled over for years and make them parve.

She may be right, but at what price to your health? Most of her recipes call for large amounts of solid fat (stick margarine or Crisco), parve whip topping, parve coffee creamer, parve sour cream and cream cheese, and frozen puff pastry.

Here are the ingredients of some of the products called for in her recipes:

Rich’s Whip Topping: Water, high fructose corn syrup (sugar), hydrogenated coconut oil, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, more sugar, gums, stabilizers and other various chemicals, flavors and colors

Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry: Unbleached enriched wheat (white) flour, water, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, mono and diglycerides derived from hydrogenated soybean oil, and soy lecithin

Although some of her recipes do use canola oil and soy, rice and almond milk, the majority are dependent on artery-clogging hydrogenated fats and lots of sugar. While recommending these products, Paula claims in her introduction that “…many studies link milk consumption with various medical symptoms and diseases.”

Is she referring to dairy allergies or lactose intolerance? If so, how can you compare these to heart disease – the number one cause of death in the US, brought on in large part by diets high in saturated fat, sugar and way too many calories?

I guess Paula and I are just on different wave-lengths when it comes to parve desserts. Her idea is creamy, rich, sweet and loaded with saturated fat, while I prefer desserts made with fresh and dried fruit, nuts, whole grains, olive and canola oil. Maybe there’s another kosher cookbook waiting to be written?

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Welcome Back!

To all of my faithful readers,

Please excuse my absence.
In truth, I have not been well for the past several months.
The good news is that I’m not seriously ill. After lots of tests and visits to medical specialists, the diagnosis is fibromyalgia – a set of treatable symptoms rather than a disease. So I’m returning to regular exercise, trying different medications and resting a lot. The worst symptoms are exhaustion and difficulty in concentrating – thus the lack of blogs.
Now that I’m feeling better, I’ll be back to blogging more often. Look for a new post following this one.
Thanks so much for your understanding.
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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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