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Not to make anyone feel bad, it's been years since I bought margarine.
Why? Because whereas butter is a fat that hardens naturally, margarine, a creation of man, is an oil that has been chemically manipulated to turn it into a solid; and scientific evidence suggests that the byproducts of this manipulation may be harmful.
While I occasionally hanker after other things that aren't exactly good for you, I have to confess that I don't miss margarine at all.
I never liked pretending it was butter and spreading it on bread, or adding it to vegetables. And there are several good cake recipes that call for oil.
I will forever bless Laura Bowman from Ontario, Canada, who told me how to make a quiche base using oil - one that can, moreover, be mixed right in the baking dish. Quiche-making now feels positively virtuous, the more so since, after experimentation, I decided to use only whole-wheat flour, which adds a farmhouse look.
Since I've found this quiche crust to be so great, here's the recipe again, together with a filling that might just fit the bill for a Shavuot lunch.
COTTAGE CHEESE & PESTO QUICHE
11â„2 cups flour
1â„2 tsp. salt
1â„2 cup of canola oil, beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk
Using a fork, combine the flour and salt in the baking dish, pour in the oil-milk combination and mix into a dough. Using your hands, press it into the dish and up the sides. Prick with a fork and put in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set.
Turn on the oven to 180 . Assemble the filling while the base is pre-baking for 10 minutes.
1-2 cups 5% cottage cheese
any white cheese leftovers (optional)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
180 gr. cheddar cheese, grated
2 heaped Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 rounded tsp. pesto sauce
1â„2 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste, if needed
Mix everything together and pour into the pre-baked crust. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
THE ONLY things I regretted not being able to make with oil were chocolate chip cookies - until I met Sarah Shane at an Amit meeting in Jerusalem.
"Years ago I asked my grandmother how to switch from margarine to oil. She replied that when she came to the States she had to learn how to use margarine instead of oil - and there I was, 50 years later, asking her how to switch back! She told me to experiment, and I did." This is an adaptation of the original Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe.
CHOC-CHIP COOKIES MADE WITH OIL
21â„4 cups of unsifted flour
1 level tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3â„4 cup canola oil
3â„4 cup sugar
3â„4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. vanilla
300 gr. chocolate chips.
Combine the oil, sugars and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Add the eggs and, gradually, the mixture of flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well and add the chocolate chips. Drop rounded teaspoons onto lightly oiled cookie sheets. Bake at 180 -190 for eight to 10 minutes. Makes 80 or more cookies.
IS SHAVUOT kosher without cheese cake? Here's a recipe from my colleague Esther Rosenfeld, who got it "from an old Jewish lady who lived in our block of flats in England."
Esther: "I consider the base to be optional."
BELLA'S EASY CHEESECAKE
200 gr. petit beurre cookies, crushed
50 gr. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
Melt the butter, mix with the cookie crumbs and sugar and press into the base of a baking tin.
Bake in a 180 oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese mixture.
500 gr. creamy white cheese, 9% or 5% fat
170 gr. sugar, or less
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all the ingredients together and spread gently over the pre-baked base. Bake at 180 for 35 to 40 minutes. Switch off the oven, open the door slightly and allow the cake to cool. Then cover with either sour cream (shamenet) or whipped sweet cream.
L'CHAYIM: In a supermarket near my home, a one-liter bottle of Carmel white grape juice was being sold for NIS 14.99, while the 750-ml. bottle standing right next to it was marked NIS 15.99.
The only explanation I can think of: The pricing clerk for the wine section was carrying out a little active consumer research on the job.