Tag Archives: break fast

Pepitada: Melon Seed Milk — a comforting break-fast drink?

Drink_MelonMilk5_blog

I had heard and read about a drink made from melon seeds, and it had always intrigued me. My first thought was: “Is it really possible?” Followed by my next thought: “Would it be worth it?” The word Pepitada comes from the Ladino word pepitas meaning, “melon seeds,” and I believe the suffix “ada” signifies some kind of drink (like you have in the word “lemonade” or limonada). This drink is truly Sephardic in nature, and something that I learned about from Bulgarian, Moroccan, Greek, and some Turkish Jews. Traditionally it is served as a break-fast food after Yom Kippur as something that is both nourishing and gentle on an empty stomach. But recently a young Bulgarian woman emailed me that in her family this drink is given to those who as firstborns have to fast on Erev Pesach (the day leading up to the first Seder) as a way to break their “pre-Passover fast”. (Note: This particular fast, otherwise known as the “Fast of the Firstborn,” is a way of expressing gratitude for those who had been spared the Plague of the Firstborn the night before the Israelites fled from Egypt.)

Because it is summer (and melons are in season) I decided in early June that this would be the perfect time to start collecting seeds, placing them in a container in the freezer until I had at least two cups-worth (it took me about 7 melons of all kinds). Then yesterday, I felt it was time. I removed and thawed the seeds, rinsed them well, and spread them out on a large kitchen towel to air-dry. Then I toasted them, cooled them, and ground them up in my new NutriBullet blender into a powder that resembled sawdust. I wrapped it in a double layer of cheesecloth, tied it up into a ball, and dropped it into a large bowl of water. Yes I was skeptical. However, after a few hours I already began to see progress. The pulverized seeds were dissolving and a milky substance was seeping out into the water. I squeezed, and more came out. I let this process continue for almost eight hours at which point (since it was late at night) I decided it was time to remove the bag and flavor with some sugar and a little bit of vanilla extract. I poured it all into a glass container and placed it into the refrigerator overnight for the flavors to meld.

This morning I tasted it and here are my thoughts:
If you are one of those people that loves to drink almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, tiger nut milk, or protein drinks, then you should try it. It has a slightly bitter flavor (adding some sugar or honey helps), but I have to admit that the taste has grown on me. It’s soothing, nourishing, and I can imagine that if you had grown up with this drink the taste and consistency would be very comforting to you. Overall I think that it actually is the perfect sustenance following a fast (or even when you are in need of a little comfort). And now is the time to start saving those seeds!

 

Pepitada (Sweet Melon Seed “Milk” with Vanilla and Rose Water)

For Milk:
2 cups melon seeds (saved from 7 to 8 large melons; can be from canteloupe, honeydew, canary, casaba, Galia, or mixture of any above, rinsed and stored in container in freezer until ready to use)

8 cups cold water
¾ to 1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon rose water (optional)

For Serving:
Ground cinnamon (optional)

 

1. Rinse all seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer, making sure to remove and discard any pieces of the melon or its membrane. Spread out on a large kitchen towel and air-dry completely, 2 to 3 hours.

2. Pour dried seeds into a baking pan and toast for 20 minutes in a 375 F. degree oven, shaking pan after 10 minutes to loosen and expose all seeds. Remove from heat and allow to fully cool, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Pour toasted seeds into a food processor, spice grinder, or NutriBullet blender (you need something that can easily and thoroughly pulverize) and pulse until very finely ground (should resemble saw dust).

(For more NutriBullet recipes, please click here!)

4. Cut two pieces of cheesecloth into pieces about 10 inches in length. If cheesecloth is created like a tube, then place one tube layer into the other, and tie up one end to create a small sack. Pour the ground seeds inside and tie second end closed. If cheesecloth is flat, then layer two pieces together, pour the ground seeds in the center, gather up all four corners and tie tightly. Place the sack of seeds into a large bowl filled with the water and cover with a lid. Let sit at room temperature for a minimum of 8 hours (or overnight), squeezing and twisting the sack every couple of hours to extract the milky part of the seeds.

5. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and rose water (if desired) and mix well until dissolved. Place in the refrigerator an additonal 6 hours or overnight for sugar to dissolve and flavors to meld. Remove from refrigerator and pour through a fine mesh strainer if there appears to be a lot of sediment from ground seeds at bottom. Before serving, shake well and adjust sugar, vanilla, and rose water (if used) to taste. Serve cold, with or without ice, with a little ground cinnamon sprinkled on top, if desired.

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How did you break your bread fast? The Tunisian Sandwich.

For the last night of Passover to break the bread fast, many Tunisians will go to a Tunisian store to take out a special sandwich called Casse-Croûte. This sandwich is made on an Italian style bread loaf or large roll (very crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside) spread with harissa or Tunisian hot sauce, pickled red bell peppers or cooked red pepper and tomato salad (mechouia/makbouba), and olive oil, then filled with sliced olives, canned tuna, capers, and sliced hardboiled eggs, salt, and pepper. Yes, it is greasy, but VERY delicious, and many will describe that sensational moment of their first bite after a long week of abstinence from bread. 

How did you break your bread fast? What did you eat?
(And what did you find yourself missing most this past holiday week?)

Sandwich_Tunisian_CasseCroute_4_Blog

Casse Croûte Tunisien: Tunisian Hero with Tuna, Eggs,
Pickled Peppers & Hot Pepper Sauce
(Yield: Makes one 8- or 10-inch sandwich good for 1 to 2 people)

For main part of sandwich:
One 8- or 10-inch Italian roll, hero, or small French baguette (can be a wedge of a larger bread)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped pickled red peppers (from jar)
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
2 hardboiled eggs, thinly sliced
1 can light (not white) tuna in oil, drained and slightly mashed with a fork

For Garnish:
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons pitted and sliced or coarsely chopped green and or black olives
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Piece of fresh lemon (to squeeze on top)
Salt and pepper to taste
Few teaspoons harissa (Tunisian hot sauce), optional (recipe following, store-bought fine to use)

1. Slice roll horizontally leaving it intact (do not cut all the way through!)

2. Open up roll and brush both sides generously with olive oil.

3. Sprinkle both sides with the chopped red peppers, onions, and coriander leaves.

4. Layer both sides with the tomato slices, followed by the egg, and the tuna running down the middle.

5. Garnish with the capers and olives, and drizzle with extra olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper, and lastly harissa or special Tunisian hot sauce, if desired. Cut sandwich in half or in thirds and serve immediately.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

 

Harissa: Tunisian Hot Pepper Sauce with Caraway, Coriander & Cilantro
(Yield: Serves 10 / Makes About ¾ to 1 Cup)

For Harissa
1 medium red bell pepper (about 5 ounces), rinsed and patted dry

1 medium green jalapeno pepper (about 1 ounce), rinsed and patted dry
1 medium red jalapeno pepper (about 1 ounce), rinsed and patted dry
3 extra large or 4 to 5 medium cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing the outsides of the peppers and garlic cloves
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon unrefined pure cane sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, or flat leaf parsley leaves 
    (Note: do not chop leaves with stems: use only the leaves by separating them from stems)

For Serving:
Extra virgin olive oil, lightly sprinkled on top
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and/or parsley leaves

1. Preheat the broiler (set on “Hi” if using an electric oven).

2. Rub a small amount of olive oil all around the outside of each pepper and garlic clove, then place them onto a baking sheet or pan and set under the broiler. Once garlic cloves begin to turn a brownish-black color (after 8 to 10 minutes), remove from pan and place onto a plate to cool. When skins of peppers begin to blacken and blister (an additional 5 minutes), turn each one over to broil the opposite side (another 10 to 15 minutes). Keep turning and rotating the peppers until all sides blister. Remove from the broiler and let cool until lukewarm. Meanwhile, prepare the spices.

3. Place the caraway seeds and coriander seeds into a small frying pan or skillet and toast, over medium heat, until they start to pop and crackle, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Shake pan every minute or so to prevent burning). Remove from heat and cool completely (about 10 minutes). Place into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until fine. Set aside and return to the peppers.

4. (Note: For handling the hot peppers you may want to wear rubber gloves to prevent your hands and fingers from burning; Be careful of wiping your eyes and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly when done!) Pull out the stems from each pepper and discard. Gently peel away the thin skin from the bell pepper and discard (no need to do this for the hot peppers). Cut each pepper in half, and using a spoon or a paper towel, gently scrape out and discard all of the seeds from the inside of each pepper.

5. Very coarsely cut the peppers (1-inch pieces is fine) and place into a food processor, along with the whole garlic cloves.

6. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until the peppers are very finely pureed.

7. Add the ground caraway-coriander mixture, sugar, and salt, and pulse until very smooth. Add the fresh coriander or parsley leaves and pulse one more time to blend.

8. Serve sprinkled with olive oil, and finely chopped coriander leaves and/or parsley leaves, alongside grilled meat, chicken or fish, or as a garnish with soups and stews, or sprinkled over your favorite salad or sandwich. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator (sprinkled with olive oil to prevent spoilage), for up to 1 week. 

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

 

Back to Bread: Moroccan Cigares aux Amandes

CigaresAmandes_BlogPassover has passed over and we are now back to eating our favorite breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, and yes, pasta. For our break fast (from bread) we decided to have a simple pasta with sauce and cheese (other choice was pizza), a cold beer, and some delicious Moroccan pastries called, Cigares aux Amandes, which are a specialty served during Mimounah, the festival celebrated at the end of the Passover holiday. Below is a recipe that I later developed after having first learned them from Fatima, a Moroccan woman I met while visiting my husband’s family in France. Because France has a large North African population from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, one can easily purchase store-bought leaves of dough in a package to roll and fill and make these cigares, but in the U.S. I have only seen them in some of the more specialized Middle Eastern stores in places like Queens and Brooklyn. Instead one can make a version that using the Greek style of thin phyllo pastry, which also rolls well but is a bit more flaky and delicate to work with.

Cigares aux Amandes: Moroccan Phyllo “Cigars” with Almonds
& 
Honeyed Orange-Blossom Syrup
(Yield: Serves 12 / Makes 2 Dozen Cigares)

 

For Filling
1 cup blanched whole almonds
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 small egg or ½ large egg, lightly beaten
1 to 1½ teaspoons orange-blossom (flower) water

For the Cigares Using Phyllo Dough:
2 sticks sweet, unsalted butter, melted
½ pound phyllo dough (half of a 1-pound box), thawed according to package directions
2 to 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

For the Cigares Using Feuilles de Brick:
6 pieces of feuilles de brick
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
¼ to ½ cup canola or vegetable oil, for frying

For the Syrup:
1 cup clover or orange-blossom honey
2 teaspoons orange-blossom water

For Serving (Optional: may choose which you prefer):
Confectioner’s sugar
Ground cinnamon
Sesame seeds


PREPARING THE FILLING:

1. Pulse together whole almonds and sugar in a food processor until finely ground into a meal.

2. Add ground ginger, cloves and cinnamon and pulse together again to blend.

3. Add eggs and orange-blossom water and pulse one last time to make an almond “dough” that is
soft and paste-like. Set aside.

FILLING, ROLLING, AND FRYING (using phyllo dough):
4. Unroll the phyllo pastry dough on a countertop and gently smooth out with dry hands. With a kitchen scissors or very sharp knife, cut the phyllo widthwise—along the short end—into three strips, making two of them about 7 inches wide. Place the strips on top of each other to form one stack and cover with a damp towel to keep the dough moist. (Cover and set aside the leftover, thinner strip of phyllo just in case you have some leftover filling at the end.)

5. Place the dish of melted butter beside you. Working with one strip of dough at a time, gently peel off a single layer of phyllo and place it vertically before you on a clean work surface. Re-cover the stack of phyllo with the damp towel.

6. Using a pastry brush, coat the entire strip lightly with melted butter.

7. Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of the almond filling and roll it out into a long, thin sausage, about the width of the phyllo dough before you. Place the almond sausage about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom of the phyllo strip.

8. Roll tightly from the bottom to halfway to the top, then turn the sides into the center and continue to roll to resemble a long, thin cigare. Brush the edges with butter and place on a platter or plate. Continue rolling the pastries in this fashion until all of the filling has been used up.

9. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the oil until very hot. Depending upon how large your saucepan is, deep fry 2 to 4 cigares at a time until they become a medium brown color. (Gently twirl each cigare around in the hot oil to make sure that all sides are evenly coated and fried.)

10. Place each deep fried cigare onto a platter covered with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil and place 2 to 4 more cigares into the saucepan for frying.

11. Position a cake rack over a plate. Combine the honey and orange blossom water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the honey has dissolved and becomes a thin liquid. Reduce heat to low. Gently pick up one fried cigare at a time with a tong or chopsticks, and dip it into the syrup to coat all sides. Place onto the cake rack for the excess syrup to drain onto the plate below. (Note: if you want to sprinkle with the sesame seeds do it at this point so that they stick onto the syrup.) Continue dipping all of the cigares into the syrup in this manner and allowing them to sit on the rack until they fully cool to room temperature.

12. Serve cigares stacked in a pyramid shape or in criss-crossed layers on a small platter or plate. If you like, you can lightly sprinkle the tops with a little confectioner’s sugar and/or cinnamon before serving.

FILLING, ROLLING, FRYING (using Feuilles de Brick):
4. Using a kitchen scissors or sharp knife, cut one leaf of dough into quarters so that you have four equal triangles. (Leave the dough attached to the paper it comes with to make the cutting easier.)

5. Peel one triangle of dough away from the paper and place flat on the countertop or table in front of you with the apex or pointy corner of the triangle facing up, and the wide base closer to you on the bottom.

6. Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of the almond filling and roll out into a long, thin “sausage,” about 4 inches wide. Place the almond sausage horizontally on the dough about 1 inch from the top or pointy tip of the triangle. (You want the almond sausage to be centered from left to right so that there is about one inch from the pointy top, as well as the left and right edges.)

7. Roll tightly from the top to halfway to the bottom, then turn the sides tightly into the center and continue to roll to resemble a long, thin cigare.

8. Dip your finger into the egg white and brush just enough along the inside edge of the dough to seal the cigare closed. Place cigare onto a plate and continue to fill and roll in this manner until all of the dough has been used up.

9. In a medium sized skillet, heat ¼ cup of the oil over high heat until very hot (when you sprinkle a little cold water into it and it crackles, then it is hot enough.) Depending upon how large your saucepan is, fry 4 to 6 cigares at a time until they become a light golden brown color, about 2 minutes. (Gently shake your skillet to make sure that all sides are evenly coated and fried in the hot oil.)

10. Place each deep fried cigare onto a platter covered with a paper towel to soak up excess oil and place 4 to 6 more cigares into the skillet for frying, adding more oil if needed.

11. Position a cake rack over a plate. Combine the honey and orange blossom water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the honey has dissolved and become a thin liquid. Reduce heat to low. Gently pick up one fried cigare at a time with a tong or chopsticks, and dip it into the syrup to coat all sides. Place on the cake rack for the excess syrup to drain onto the plate below. (Note: if you want to sprinkle with the sesame seeds do it at this point so that they stick onto the syrup.) Continue dipping all of the cigares into the syrup in this manner and allowing them to sit on the rack until they fully cool to room temperature.

12. Serve cigares stacked in a pyramid shape or in criss-crossed layers on a small platter or plate. If you like, you can lightly sprinkle the tops with a little confectioner’s sugar and/or cinnamon before serving.

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