Sunday, May 24, 2015

The End Of A CHag Shavuot 2015

it is 9:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  the holiday of Shavuot just ended in the holy land.  in the states people are coping with yet, an additional day.  that's another two meals.  I'm so glad that I live here.  I was very uncertain about my holiday menu this year.  I didn't have to prepare Shabbat meals too but I, nevertheless, felt extremely pressured.  I couldn't, for the life of me, concentrate.  I ended up cancelling my oncologist appointment.

I was not faring well all week in the wake of a another desert heat wave.  I didn't do my grocery shopping until Thursday.  that's a first for me.  usually, I've already cooked and frozen all sorts of meat dishes.  no one wanted to eat meat.  everyone wanted dairy meals.  according to tradition, one eats a meat meal by night and a light dairy meal by day.  some sticklers eat a mat meal in the afternoon too.

coming off of a Shabbat afternoon meal which is most often chicken or meat, the thought of eating more meat at 10:00 p.m. was too horrifying.  I wanted to be sophisticated and have a cheese and fruit platter.  I wanted to prepare mushroom and cheese blintzes.  everyone here just loves mushrooms.  I knew I had to come up with a cheesecake or two but I was bored with the old standard vanilla pudding one.  And I most definitely didn't want to make a lasagna.

I bought some Italian lady fingers in the local supermarket and knew I had to go with tiramisu.  I hadn't seen lady fingers in years.  I went on line for days coming up with the ideal recipe.  I also opted for a non bake cheesecake this year.  graham cracker crusts were on sale at the large supermarket.  I spent a lot of time online and I also spent a lot of money at the supermarket.  whipping cream and cooking cream and sour cream and cream cheeses were all on sale.  there wasn't much of a variety of fruit, though. I only bought grapes and watermelon which were both very expensive.

I ended up buying packaged mushroom and cheese tortellini and made my own mushroom sauce.  I didn't use the cooking cream because the daughter-in-law prefers a tomato sauce.  the little kids don't like tomato sauce so I made a mushroom sauce that resembles the packets with fake chicken soup mix.  there wasn't any frozen blintzes at the supermarket and there wasn't anyway I was going to make them from scratch.  I think that I actually made blueberry cheese blintzes for my parents about 12 years ago.  that was probably the last time I made blintzes.  I made a small amount of baked wild salmon and a small piece of spicy Moroccan style Niles perch.  I made a beef bourgeon 'inspired' dish but since I didn't have any red wine I used fig liquor.  I threw in all sorts of things to make it tasty and a can of mushrooms.  we never touched it.  I froze it for next week's Shabbat.

 I also made a salt and black pepper noodle kugel in a round dish.   I don't make the standard dairy sweet noodle kugel with sour cream because the daughter-in-law doesn't like it.  I bought a package of lox and a creamy goat cheese spread.  this is always a big hit with my guests. the daughter-in-law can't stand goat cheese.  the selection of cheeses was a bit limited at the big supermarket.  I found a goat camembert which was lovely with the grapes.  the daughter-in-law actually ate that one.  I made a salad of roasted beets and walnuts on a bed of greens.  only problem is that I dotted it with the creamy goat cheese.  I had to make a separate salad sans goat cheese for the daughter-in-law.

I made an Israeli salad and used Greek yogurt instead of mayo.  can you guess who didn't touch it?  I bought a lovely dark pumpernickel bread and froze it before Shabbat.  I waited until 8:20 p.m. when Shabbat ended to heat up the food.  the bread was still frozen.  I thought that I had a lot of time before my son came home from synagogue.  I expected to eat at around 10:00 p.m.  you really can't start preparing food for a holiday on Shabbat.  I did as much of the prep work as I could on Friday.  I washed and shredded the lettuce and I baked the beets and peeled and sliced hem.  I cooked the tortellini and made a mushroom sauce.  I put it all in a casserole dish to be reheated on Saturday night and I hoped for the best.  the recipes always say to serve immediately.

I made the infamous tiramisu and the no bake cheesecake.  I chose not to temper the egg yokes with the sugar as one of the tiramisu videos showed and I only used 4 yokes instead of the prescribed 6.  I didn't have any espresso and neither did the large supermarket.  I used powdered instant coffee.  I didn't have any rum or coffee liquor or masala so I used a bit of cherry liquor.  it was that or the fig stuff and I ended up using it all in the meat dish.  the tiramisu looked simply wonderful.  so did the no bake cheesecake.  I ended up not using the spring form pan as recommended and I didn't have any pie filling to cover the cake.  the Israeli kids don't like that stuff anyway.

 I used the prepared graham cracker crusts that I bought on sale.  the first one crumbled to pieces as I opened it.  I got inspired and used the crumbs of the broken crust to cover the cake.  it looked just like a store bought cake.  it tasted a bit salty to me.  I used 30% cream cheese.  I usually use 5% and add vanilla pudding and a lot of eggs.  I put both desserts in the fridge to firm up.  after many hours I checked on them and they looked okay.  I tried to cut them up to give the daughter-in-law a taste when she came home from work.   the cheese cake was not firm at all and couldn't be sliced.  the tiramisu was runny and looked like cheese soup.  the daughter-in-law was not impressed.  she was not happy to hear that I didn't make the standard cheesecake that I always bake for every birthday. she was very disappointed in me.

I thought about scrambling for ingredients to make yet another cake but I just couldn't do it.  I ran to the computer and went online to see how to fix a runny tiramisu.  from the number of posts I saw, I get that it is a very common problem.  one should never experiment with new recipes before a holiday.  we froze both cakes for a couple of hours and voila! they were both spot on and spectacular in the end.  zelda reigns!  my son came back from services at around 9:00 p.m.  I panicked.  I was still heating up the bread and tortellini on the electric platter and plating the salads.  my grandson was gauging my antique wooden table with his spoon and I lost it and hit him on his hands a few times.  I never hit him in front of his mother.  she ran downstairs to tell my son what I had done.  I felt awful.

as usual, after all the expense and time and effort I put into these holiday meals, it is utter chaos at the table.  the bread was served still frozen in the middle and I was horrified.  I try to hide the fact that I freeze bread.  the kids like fresh bread.  my son asked if I made lasagna and then I felt like a complete failure once again.  why didn't I just make a damn lasagna.  that's what they wanted.  the cheesecake with the vanilla pudding and a lasagna.  that's what I make every Shavuot.  why was I trying to be sophisticated with these kids?  he ended up being pacified by the lox and goat cheese spread.  they both enjoyed the salads and especially loved the desserts.  there is only one slice left of each I'm happy to report.

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