Recipes: Summer Desserts – Plum Torte and Ice Cream Strudel

By Jean Graubart, Director of Jewish Living and Learning

I always thought that baking was one of those skills (some say, talents) that skips a generation.

My Ashkanazi grandmother Evelyn made the most delicious pastries stuffed with raisins and cinnamon, which I can still taste so many years later.  My Sephardic grandmother Molly, rolled out wonderful biscochos, always found in her oven (she stored them there) for the grandkids to grab.

But my mother burnt Sara Lee, and at best would make a Duncan Hines cake so dry, it only worked with layers of ice cream in the middle and on top, and we thought this was gourmet.  Who knew?

I would gather recipes from friends, claiming them as my own and giving them a family history.  By making a change or 2, they became my recipe, and have been enjoyed and passed on.

Since it is so terribly hot in the summer, I rarely bake, not wanting to heat the house.  But there are exceptions…

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Summer is when we get the best plums, and I love this plum torte.

Plum Torte

12 Italian or purple plums halved…if large, quarter (and who says you can’t use green or red plums?)
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (I use parve margarine so we can enjoy this with any meal)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Lemon juice to taste

Cream butter and sugar together
Add eggs and mix well (hand mixing or electric are fine)
Add flour, baking powder and mix to combine
Spoon into a lightly greased pie pan and cover the bottom and a little way up the sides
Place plums, skin side up, on top of batter, all around
Squeeze lemon on top  to cover and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon

Bake 350 for an hour.
Cool and serve, warm or next day, with ice cream, whipped cream or plain.
This torte can stay in the refrigerator several days, covered (can heat before serving, though I like it cold)
Freezes very nicely, wrapped tightly.  Can defrost on 300 for a few minutes.

My friend has a plum tree and makes this in a square brownie pan with the plums cut up and mixed in.  Since that has worked so well and the cake is so easy to make with 1 bowl only, we have made it with other fruits.

It is great (pie style) with apples or pears on top for Rosh Hashanah.

For more summer treats, use peaches on top if you have a basket from the farm waiting to be used.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

When I was in graduate school, I tasted this delicious strudel which I never thought I could duplicate, but then realized how easy it was.  Why is it summer food?  The main ingredient is ice cream!

Ice Cream Strudel

2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 pound sweet butter
1/2 pint strawberry, peach or any fruit flavored ice cream (I have used vanilla too)  – very soft, almost melted

Blend and refrigerate above over night.
Preheat oven to 325.
Divide into 4 balls and roll in rectangle on floured table (can use powdered sugar instead).
Spread with jam, nuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon and sugar (Use whatever you like: currants, raisins, mini chocolate chips).
Roll up like a jelly roll, and cut ¾” apart, and ¾ of the way through (seam side down).
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes on greased cookie sheet, seam side down.
When cooled and ready to serve, cut all the way through and put in cupcake holders and freeze in a cookie tin or serve and enjoy with iced tea.

So when those fruity ice cream flavors tempt you, have a bowlful and then prepare this rich and lovely dough.

This is a great dough! You can do anything with it. (It also makes a great dough to cover apples in apple dumplings or baked apples.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Yes, summertime and the livin’ is easy, the salads are tasty and the fruit is delicious.

These treats help to balance out the calories and are truly good all year.  They are easy, different and a pleasure to share at a picnic or BBQ.

_________________________

Want to check out past recipes from Jean? Click here!

Advertisements

Shabbat Surfing: Tu B’Av – It’s All About the Love!

If you’re feeling an extra bit love and affection floating around today, it’s the effects of Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love.

(Or as other Jewish denominations pronounce it, lurve.)

If you want to pass along the love, you can send a free Tu B’Av ecard to your special someones, designed by contest winner, Rachel Scheer.

Tu B'Av ecard by Rachel ScheerAnd isn’t a Day of Love the perfect time for a Kiss-In?

The Jewish community was recently polled to find that 81% support equal marriage for all. Some will be celebrating the today with National Same-Sex Kiss Day, in support of equality for all, and in response to Chik-Fil-A’s Chickens for Bigotry* campaign. It seems all expressions of affection (kisses, hugs, holding hands) will be welcome, as will as any and all who would like to come and kiss.
*Not the actual name

Whether you are celebrating with a quiet dinner at home, or a huge white party with hundreds of your nearest and dearest, our Tu B’Av wish is that you know how much we love our readers and all who join us at the DCJCC.

Send a Tu B’av Card to Someone You Love!

Tu B’Av (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av) is the Israeli-Jewish “Day of Love.”  The closest thing to Valentine’s Day in the Jewish calendar, this ancient holiday occurs in late July or early August. This year Tu B’Av falls out on Friday, August 3.

Jewish tradition relates how millennia ago, on the 15th of Av, the “daughters of Jerusalem” dressed in white and danced in the vineyards to entice the young men. In recent years, Tu B’Av has experienced a revival, especially in Israel, with weddings, singles events and gifts and a flurry of flowers, chocolates and hearts.

In celebration of the Jewish Day of Love, the DCJCC invited the community to compete in a Tu B’Av Greeting Card contest. Congratulations to Rachel Scheer for her winning design! Rachel will enjoy a romantic dinner for two at the Distrikt Bistro.

Click on the greeting card image below to send a card to someone you love!



Shabbat Surfing: When the Lights Went Out in DC

While Europe was discovering the power of the universe with the Higgs boson breakthrough, back here in DC, many of us spent days without power in the aftermath of the storm – including a simcha or two that went forward even without electricity.

If the storm had you all shaken up, that’s okay, as we learn in the Arty Semite’s post this week, because Jews are awesome at anxiety – recognizing it, dramatizing it, grasping it, differentiating it, talking about it, and even dealing with it.

Dan Fishback, who joined us last year at the Washington Jewish Music Festival, is taking that anxiety and putting it to productive use in The Material World, which “features an anachronistic cast of neurotic Jews, all trying to save the planet. (…) And unlike other pop musicals about Madonna and socialism, this play has scenes in Yiddish.”

For those still feeling unsettled and needing more assurances about the future, Jewcy has begun prognosticating, introducing Jewcy Horoscopes, and explaining the Jewish astrological tradition, which has been around for centuries, apparently.

Since my horoscope is warning against ruining things by over-analyzing, I’ll sign off with a final Shabbat wish: may your A/C be humming, your summer salads be chilly, your swimming pools open for everyone.

 

Shabbat Surfing: Summertime and the Living is Groovy

Prehensile-tailed Porcupine

The National Zoo recommends fruitsicles. As do we.

Now that we can turn from serious conversations about healthcare for just a moment, this heat is keeping us on some lighter, more summery topics.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn – aka Rabbi Reefer* – is among the first to be opening a medical marijuana dispensary in DC, after an epic process. “Our midlife quest for a new way to make a positive difference in people’s lives and a lifelong commitment to pushing the envelope to help others made this the obvious path to follow.” (*Okay, no one has actually called him that before now.)

If you come up with a better nickname than I did and it catches on worldwide, you might be the first winner of the new million-dollar “Jewish Nobel Prize,” actually called the Genesis Prize. “The international prize will be awarded to Jews who win global recognition for their achievements in the fields of science and the arts.” I suppose “good nicknaming” doesn’t really count as an achievement in the arts…

However, creative labeling might be: Hebrew National is under fire for its kosher hotdogs not being quite so kosher… as Jon Stewart reported on The Daily Show.

And if it’s all too much, follow Nora Ephron’s advice. As she once told an audience, “I’m very into denial.” Hide out inside with the a/c this weekend, pop in “When Harry Met Sally,” and dream up how you’re going to win that million dollars.

 

In the Gallery – Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women

By Sarah Lightman,  Co-Curator and Artist in Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women

(c) Sarah Lightman – Graphic Details

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the show, and why it is so different from what I was just watching on TV last weekend.

Back home [in Britain] the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee have just come to an end – having flooded every TV channel, newspaper and magazine. Yet amongst all this colour and pageantry, it is also widely acknowledged just how little we know about what the Queen thinks and feels. For she is, and here I quote a columnist from last weekend’s Guardian Newspaper, “one of the last silent celebrities.”

The artists in Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, as you may have already seen already, are quite the opposite.

(c) Corinne Pearlman – Graphic Details

Here on the walls of the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery at the Washington DCJCC, are comics that delight in the scatological, emotional, political, and sexual messiness of life. And in the need to tell of their lives, these 18 artists from Israel, UK, USA and Canada reflect not only a very Jewish nuance to living, but also some radical innovations.

Jewish life and experience is a constant litany of retelling and reliving stories: of what happened to us. For example, we are encouraged every Pesach around our seder tables, to feel like we personally came out of Egypt. The weekly Torah readings at synagogue are extrapolated in sermons to ensure the experiences of our forefathers relate to our very own lives, even though we are separated by thousands of years. Jewish life is a training ground for us to learn to tell our own stories, with both a personal, yet also wider, relevance.

(c) Sharon Rudahl – Graphic Details

Critically, however, it is predominantly the male experience, the male story that is passed down. The female experience is not recorded, vocalized and explored.

And I consider the description of Teresa de Lauretis of female characters in ancient mythology to be very apt – she writes in Alice Doesn’t how the female characters “have survived inscribed […] in someone else’s story, not their own; so they are figures and markers of positions […] places through which the hero and his story move to their destination and to accomplish meaning.”

But here in Graphic Details we have heroines.

These heroines survive and thrive the onslaught of daily and domestic life. The Graphic Details artists recognize that the comic offers a stage set where they as artists and writers are both directors, and stars.

(c) Lauren Weinstein – Graphic Details

An autobiographical comic is an empowering space, where for those pages, it’s their version of life and their life journey, that takes precedence.

Another way in which these comic artists voices are radical is because they tell of troubling experiences that are experienced by many, yet are frequently undiscussed. Miscarriage, divorce, coming out, failed relationships, complex friendships and regrets fill the walls.

These personal and resonant stories are able to fill the work because of the intimacy and safety of the comic.

(c) Diane Noomin – Graphic Details

As you can see, often comics pages are structured around a grid shape like a waffle. The square paneling of these comics pages are safe and controlled spaces for stories that are conflicted and painful. The size of the images and texts requires us to get close so we can read and see the work – forming a physical closeness like a friend whispering a secret.

In a world where being Jewish and a woman in society brings complicated expectations and resistance, comics offer a safe space to begin a confession, and find a voice for previously silenced fears, feelings and memories.

So I would like to conclude by suggesting that in visualizing and vocalizing their lives, the 18 artists of Graphic Details are reconfiguring a central concern of Jewish life – a commitment to History – but here it is a Herstory. As they take their own experiences and bring them to the wider Jewish and non-Jewish world, they are following a traditional and untraditional path.

Sarah Lightman is both a co-curator and an artist in Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, on display through September 2, 2012.

(c) Graphic Details

America, You Sexy B**ch

ImageOn my last road trip, my sister and I bonded over questionable waffles, avoiding the sketchballs outside our motel room in Ohio, and identifying sea life in Georgia.

While the purpose of crossing state lines was just to move our car from Michigan to Florida, it ended up an adventure in American culture.

Future  guests of the DCJCC, Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain road tripped across America with a unified purpose slightly loftier than my own car-moving purposes: to see if two people with radically different political beliefs could find common ground.

Meghan McCain – a writer for the Daily Beast and is author of Dirty Sexy Politics – and Michael Ian Black – stand-up comedian and star of many movies and TV shows, like The State and VH1’s I Love the 70s/80s/90s – found some hilarious common ground.

From North to South and coast to coast, they see how people in Red states and Blue live their lives. They discuss feminism in the workplace with a Little Rocktrucker mom, sex education with Vegas exotic dancers, and religious tolerance with an imam in Detroit.

In Salt Lake City, Meghan meets her first real anarchist, and in Sedona, Michael not only begins to understand NRA culture but actually shoots a gun for the first time.

A road trip with a lesson: Meghan and Michael find that the one thing everyone they met on their trip shares is love for their country and a desire to see it succeed. The two come away from their journey with hope that Americans can unite during this divisive political age.

We did,” Meghan writes, “and that means anyone can.”

The book is certainly getting buzz; in her first 3 minutes with Jay Leno, Meghan talks pot, gay marriage, birth control and bullies.

On July 12, they’ll be hanging out with us for the whole evening, and we can only imagine what will come out of their mouths. I’ll have to ask them if they have any better waffle recommendations for me…

 

%d bloggers like this: