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On September 26 the Post ran an opinion piece called "An exercise in 'halla diplomacy,'" which recounted "how the sweet smell of baking bread won new friends for the Jews and Israel."
"You'll see," warned our photo archivist, "readers will be writing in, asking for the recipe."
And so it was; so here it is.
Says op-ed writer Sharon Shenhav: "This recipe makes two large loaves, but it can be divided into three or four smaller ones. For healthy nutrition I use whole wheat flour for half of the required quantity."
SHARON SHENHAV'S HALLA RECIPE
1 tsp. sugar
1â„2 cup warm water
1 package yeast (2 Tbsp.)
1â„2 cup oil
1â„2 cup warm water
1â„4 cup sugar
1-2 flat tsp. salt
31â„2 - 4 cups flour
poppy seeds or sesame seeds
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp. water
In a large bowl which has been rinsed in hot water dissolve the teaspoon of sugar in one half-cup of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it stand for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Combine with the oil, rest of the water and sugar, salt, eggs and half of the flour. Beat well. Stir in the remaining flour; the dough should be sticky.
Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Turn onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.
Round up the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (about 11â„2 to 2 hours). Punch it down, cover it and let it rise again until it has doubled (about 45 minutes).
Divide the dough into three equal parts (3 loaves). Divide each part into 3 and shape into long strands. Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet or parchment and braid them loosely. Fasten the ends securely.
Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let them rise until they are double the size (20-30 minutes). Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake at 180-200 for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
DAVID BRINN, editorial director of the ISRAEL21c advocacy group and duty editor at the Post, is also the paper's pop music critic. As such, he's not above making sweet music in the kitchen, where he wowed his family in New England this summer with a festive Friday night meal made in a baking bag - "a juicy chicken dinner that earned accolades from grandma all the way down to the finicky five-year-old."
JUICY CHICKEN DINNER
1 chicken, portioned and skinned
potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots (as desired)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Cut the first three vegetables into largish chunks. Put everything into the bag, shake in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil plus a squirt of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
Tie the bag and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes at medium temperature.
AS I'VE noted before, the supermarket is a living handbook of human behavior.
Last week, waiting to pay for my purchases, I noticed a tablecloth in a nearby basket that was, except for its pattern of large sunflowers, the same as one I already own and am fond of. The only specimen of its kind, it wasn't wrapped - but it did have a price sticker: NIS 13.90.
I turned it this way and that, not sure about it. In the end, swayed by the price, I added it to my trolley.
At the check-out, the veteran clerk looked at me. "Where's the wrapping? I need to punch in the code."
I explained that there hadn't been any wrapping, which sent her off to the enquiries desk. Returning, she explained that "the person who does the codes has gone home, and nothing can be done."
Hesitant before, now that I was being denied I began to want that tablecloth, desperately.
"Look, can't you put it aside? I'll come back."
"Sorry - it's being returned to the supplier." And she tossed my sunflowers into a bag and onto a neighboring counter.
By this time, there was nothing in the world I wanted so much as that tablecloth; so when my groceries were packed I sidled over, behind the clerk's back, and retrieved the bag.
At the enquiries counter, I addressed the manager:
"Look, I hate to nag, but there's this codeless tablecloth..."
"No problem," said the manager. And there wasn't.
The moral? Don't take no for an answer - but be meek.
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