Pesto and Cheese Challah

My friend Kate sent me this recipe. It looked amazing.  So I put it in the queue.
I didn’t have everything on hand that I needed, but I made some easy substitutions.  For the Pesto I used Scallions instead of Garlic Scapes, and it came out much like the filling in an earlier challah I did. But it was still good:

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The food processor makes this one possible. Then I used goat cheese for the cheese, as we only use kosher cheese, and there just aren’t that many around.

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Luckily we had this one in the fridge from a recent trip to either Costco.

The final product looked great:

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Even after it was baked:

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I ended up bringing it to my parent’s house for a shabbat dinner where mom and dad had made pizza. It was the perfect combination for a pizza dinner!  (Don’t worry, there was a plain, non-dairy one for us to make motzi on).

Apricot and Zattar Challah

Apricot and Zattar– that is a combination I could not have come up with on my own.  But here’s what happened. I belong to a listserv that is for “farmers” in Seattle. I get tons of great information from this list about how to raise my chickens. And on occasion, there is something else valuable on there.  Well, one of those “something elses” happened to be the offer to buy crates of fresh apricots straight from the farmers for a deep discount.  There was a farm in the Yakima Valley with hail damaged apricots.  So we bought a case. And they were delicious.

So that got me thinking that I should make an apricot challah.  Which led me to google. Which led me to this recipe.

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I made the apricot paste, adapting their recipe, using fresh fruit and no jam.  Just a bunch of honey to keep them sweet.

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The outcome was amazing! The spouse suggested I was heavy handed with the zaatar (especially because finding kosher zattar in Seattle isn’t easy, it was EXPENSIVE from Whole Foods). But the combination of the two flavors was divine.

I’m not a huge fan of figs, but I happened upon the Smitten Kitchen fig challah recipe and knew my spouse would love it. For this challah, you make a fig paste using dried figs, orange zest and juice, and water.

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The fig paste is then spread on the challah:

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And the challah is shaped.  I chose a twisted ring because I thought it would be pretty:

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It was beautiful:

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Our guests compared the filling to that of a fig newton cookie.  It was sweet– which must come from the dried figs, as there was no sugar added. And the bread was cake-like.  Even as someone who doesn’t appreciate figs, this was a good challah.

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One guest suggested it would be a good one for Rosh Hashanah and I enthusiastically agree.  I may have to put it in my regular RH rotation.

The one I didn’t like

I tried a new flavor a few weeks ago. I haven’t posted, because it wasn’t that good. Rosemary Garlic Challah. It sounds delicious doesn’t it?  Well, it was a bit of a dud.

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I used roasted garlic and fresh rosemary from the garden.

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It turned out beautiful but tasted a bit meh.

Chimichurri Challah

My friend Michael sent me this recipe to try out. I don’t have access to ramps here in Seattle, as I understand they are best when foraged.  So I googled for substitutes and found a suggestion of green onions.  I made my basic dough, instead of using theirs, then used the food processor to make the filling:

  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

I rolled out the dough and spread on the filling:

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Then rolled it into a tube. I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to stay closed for me to braid. So I coiled it into a beautiful round.

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It was delicious and eaten quickly!!

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I had some of the filling left over, and my spouse ate it on tortilla chips the next day, then asked me to make more for the next shabbat.

Lemon Cheesecake Challah

Yes, you read that headline right, Lemon Cheesecake Challah.  Seriously.  We could probably just stop there.  But why?  Here’s the story…. This weekend is the holiday of Shavuot.  This holiday, I lovingly refer to as the “stay up all night and eat cheesecake holiday.”  What’s not to love about that.  The holiday commemorates (in part) the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We stay up all night in anticipation of receiving the Torah (fun!).  And because G-d gave us the commandment to keep kosher in the Torah, all of our prior meat and dishes were suddenly rendered problematic, and we ate dairy until we could kasher things. This, among many other reasons, is why we eat dairy on Shavuot.  Of course, I don’t eat meat at all, so most of my festive meals feature dairy in some sort.

I found the recipe for lemon cheesecake challah on Smitten Kitchen. I used my regular challah dough because it is proven, but I followed their recipe for the cheesecake filling and the lemon curd.  Lemon curd may become my new favorite thing to make. If I’d known you could make something THAT delicious THAT easily, I would have made it before.

Now, technically, for motzi on shabbat, challah needs to be parve (neither meaty or dairy). So when I make dairy challah, I always make a loaf of “plain” as my second loaf, so that motzi can be over parve challah for the halachically minded among us.

Now, on to the challah…Using my regular dough, I rolled out a large rectangular shape.

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Then cut slits into the sides:

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I layered on the cheesecake filling, then the lemon curd:

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Then “braided” it:

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I brushed it with egg and sprinkled it with some nice, organic, coarse sugar.

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Then baked it.

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This is a beautiful and delicious recipe.  Happy Shavuot everyone!

Caramelized Onion Challah

I didn’t have a good theme for this week, and was getting a little tired of shapes, so decided it was time to adventure into flavors again.  I googled “challah flavor” and found a few good recipes (others coming in future weeks– like rosemary garlic challah!!)  One that I found was a caramelized onion challah.  Ummm….yes please!

The first step is to caramelize the onions. I’d never done this before but the recipe indicated and the inter-webs confirmed that this was a long process.  I often make my challah on Friday mornings (get up, braid, put in oven, shower, take out of oven, leave for work) and an hour to caramelize wasn’t going to fit that schedule.  So I did the onions on Thursday night.  I used one whole onion. My partner said it looked like too much when he peeked in and I was only moments into caramelizing.  Boy did those suckers cook down.

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I cooked them in our cast iron skillet on medium-low (about 3-4) for an hour.  When they were done, they were beautiful!

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The next morning I made my typically challah recipe and rolled each “snake” in onions before I braided it.

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Any that fell off I just shoved into the cracks between braids.

The finished product was beautiful!

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And delicious, if I do say so myself.  I seriously think this one was better than the ginger one in February, but I like onions better than I like ginger!

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