Green Eats: Purim fun

Nutty (and fruity) recipes for a dressed-up Purim basket.

Green fruit sushi 311 (photo credit: MCT)
Green fruit sushi 311
(photo credit: MCT)
The most joyous day on our holiday calendar, Purim is an opportunity for us to be silly and a little nutty, and still get away with it. I’m all for it, especially since that same frivolous theme can be woven into the food we prepare for the holiday, besides, of course, for hamentashen.
Some of these can also be used for the holiday tradition of mishloah manot or gifts of food.
Although both my daughters are no longer teenagers, we all fondly remember those precious times in the kitchen when we worked together to create fun holiday food.
Here are some examples:
This funny recipe is made with apricot “leather” – an ultra-thin layer of dried apricots that is peeled off a plastic backing. Although not as popular today as it was in my childhood, apricot “ledder” (as it’s called in Hebrew) is still available and still a nutritious food.
Other “leathers” can be used as well, if desired.
Since Purim is a time for “disguised,” and topsy-turvy foods, what could be better than giving apricot leather another incarnation – as a substitute for nori – the traditional sushi wrapper. It makes a great appetizer or party food.
Look for fruit “leather” rolls in health food stores. These rolls can be prepared a day in advance, and will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
For each roll: ✔ One 27.5 x 10 cm. piece apricot or other fruit leather ✔ 120 grams thick cream cheese (like Philadelphia) ✔ 1 tsp. honey ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla ✔ A few drops rose water (optional) ✔ 1⁄4 cup toasted shelled salted pistachios
Cut a piece of fruit leather, if necessary, to the abovementioned size. Place the wider side closer to you.
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, honey, vanilla and rose water, and spread over the piece of fruit leather using a fork. Sprinkle the pistachios about 0.6 cm. from the bottom in a horizontal line. Carefully and tightly roll up the roll as you would for sushi. To “seal” the edge, moisten it with water.
Wrap the “sushi” in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to firm up. To serve, slice into slices a little more than 1 cm. wide with a sharp knife and stand upright on a plate.
Adapted from The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking by Phyllis Glazer and Miriyam Glazer.
Even though they’re older, my kids still love this recipe.
Children especially love to decorate the pizza top. The dough can be made in advance and chilled in the refrigerator. Like all pizza, this one also tastes best freshly made. If chilling a finished pizza, use a bell-top cover or an upside-down pot or you’ll spoil the finished “look.”
For the pizza “crust”: ✔ 11⁄2 cups 70% whole-wheat flour (available at the Nitzat Haduvdevan chain)✔ 2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar, or any sugar ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt ✔ 100 grams butter ✔ 4 Tbsp. very cold water
Filling layer: ✔ 11⁄2 Tbsp. cornstarch or kuzu ✔ 1 cup milk, soy milk or almond milk ✔ 2 Tbsp. honey ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
Fruit: ✔ 1 banana sliced ✔ A handful of small strawberries, sliced ✔ 1-2 small kiwi fruits, or one large, peeled and sliced
“Tomato sauce”: ✔ Third cup strawberry or raspberry jam with no added sugar ✔ Water to thin out For the crust: Mix the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Cut the butter in small pieces and add to the processor. Pulse to form small crumbs. Add the water a teaspoon at a time while the processor is working, till a smooth ball of dough is formed. Remove and knead once or twice to form a disk.
Cover with plastic wrap and press to form a disk 2 cm. thick. Chill one hour. (Can be prepared in advance and chilled but remove 10 minutes before using).
Place a piece of parchment paper on the countertop (wet the countertop so the paper will stick). Roll out the dough to a 35-cm. circle, roll in the edges to form a 1 cm rolled edge. Chill the dough on the paper for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170º.
Bake the crust 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool while making the filling.
For the filling:
Mix the cornstarch or kuzu with one-quarter cup cold milk and then add the rest of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Add the honey and vanilla and continue to cook, stirring, till thickened slightly less than pudding, 30 seconds. (Do not overcook, and do not stop stirring or the filling will develop a “crust.” Remove from heat and stir quickly to help cool down. Pour the slightly warm filling into the crust and spread evenly.
Decorate the top with the cut fruit. Put slightly diluted jam in a squeeze bottle and make a rim of “sauce” all around the pizza, right next to the crust. You can serve immediately, or chill – but remember to cover to avoid having the vanilla pudding develop a crust.
NOTE: Made from a root, kuzu is a healthier thickener than cornstarch (though more expensive). It is available at selected health food stores.