Parshat Acharei inspiration:
“Hashem spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: I am Hashem, Your God. Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled and do not perform the practice of the land of Canaan to which I bring you, and do not follow their traditions. Carry out My laws and safeguard My decrees to follow them; I am Hashem, your God.” And then the parsha goes on to list forbidden relationships and forbidden practices.
I decided to make Forbidden Rice Pudding. Rice pudding is one of those things that people tend to have strong feelings about (my husband is not a fan) but Forbidden Rice makes it intriguing and memorable enough to make for the parsha.
The story goes that this mysterious black rice was once reserved only for the household of the Chinese emperor and hence forbidden to anyone else. This whole-grain rice is rich in anthocyanins, which are antioxidant pigments that give the rice its unusual purplish-black color. Anthocyanin is the same antioxidant responsible for the color of eggplant, blueberries, acaí berries and concord grapes, as well as purple cauliflower, purple corn and blood oranges. It is also high in protein and iron. It is a low-yield crop so it is still relatively expensive for rice, and it is a bit more sturdy than other varieties, requiring a longer cook time.
Forbidden Rice Pudding With Blueberries
- ½ cup Forbidden Rice (my local organic-friendly grocery store carries one by Lotus Foods®)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup rice milk
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
1. Wash the rice as you normally would, and don’t be alarmed by the grayish rinse water.
2. Combine the rice, water and salt in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer to 40 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
3. Add the rice milk, coconut milk and honey to the rice and stir together. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is creamy. The rice will remain a little al dente, but the extra liquid should be like a thick purple cream. Add the vanilla and blueberries, stir a little, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Scoop into individual serving dishes or a bowl, cover, and chill for at least two hours before serving.
Parsha Kedoshim inspiration:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself for I am the Lord.”
And who is everyone’s favorite neighbor? Mister Rogers, obviously. And in episode 1721, Mister Rogers visits a fortune cookie factory (https://pbskids.org/video/mister-rogers/1321411026) and reminds everyone that fortune cookies “are just for fun.”
In fact, in doing my research for this column, I discovered that the fortune cookie, as we know it, seems to have been invented in the early 19th century by Japanese immigrants to San Francisco, although it may have been based on earlier Japanese tea cookies. The parsha discusses several very important ways to be a good neighbor, and we made a couple batches of these and then brought some next door to share with our literal neighbors.
*A warning if you do it with kids: The cookie must be folded when they are still very hot—adult supervision (maybe with the adult doing this step) is necessary. You might also want to assume that the first batch is practice, with or without kids helping. The quantities listed make about 12-16 cookies, and you can easily double it if you need to.
A fun chinuch part of this is making the fortunes! My son typed out a sheet of fortunes—he used lines from the parsha—and cut them into strips to be included.
Fortune Cookies (adapted from www.TasteofHome.com)
- 3 tbsp margarine, softened
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg white
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1. Prepare “fortunes” on strips of paper about 3½ inches long by ¼ inch high.
2. Heat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw two 3½-inch diameter circles on the parchment paper. Turn the paper upside down, but you should still be able to see the circles. Also find a glass or bowl with a thin rim for folding the cookies into their unique shape.
3. In a small bowl, beat the margarine, sugar, egg white and vanilla. When integrated, add the flour and mix well.
4. Spread 1 tablespoon of batter over each parchment paper circle on the baking sheet. Bake about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned overall, but still pliable like a crepe.
5. Work quickly! Slide parchment onto a work surface. Cover one cookie with a clean kitchen towel. Place a fortune in the center of the other cookie; loosen cookie from parchment with a thin spatula.
a. Fold cookie in half over fortune strip so the edges meet; hold edges together for 3 seconds.
b. Place center of cookie over the rim of a glass; gently press ends down to bend cookie in middle. Cool 1 minute before removing to a wire rack.
c. Repeat with a second cookie. If cookies become too cool to fold, return to oven to soften for about 1 minute.
6. Repeat with remaining batter and fortunes. These will stay crunchy for several days … if they last that long. Amuse and amaze your guests!
Follow me @EdibleParsha on Facebook to see each recipe on the Monday of each parsha week for plenty of time to prepare it for Shabbat!