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A different take on potatoes and oil

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A new 365-page hard-cover cookbook, "Quick & Kosher—Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing" (Feldheim Publishers, '007), with 160 recipes and 1'0 full-color photos, would make a nice Chanukah gift — and not just for the bride who knows nothing. Jamie Geller writes that she entered marriage and kosher cooking "without knowing a spatula from a saucepan." The recipes include step-by-step instructions with a promise that they require "no more than 15 minutes to prepare." Especially noteworthy is the introductory section on "Setting Up Your Kitchen," with a comprehensive four-page list of "must-haves," including spices, equipment, pantry items, and staples for the refrigerator and vegetable bin. The book retails for $34.99.

Potato Kugel Cups

Here is a different take on potatoes and oil for Chanukah — the potatoes are baked, not fried.

Potato Kugel Cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Chill Time: none

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3/4 cup olive oil, divided

3 eggs

' tsp. kosher salt

1/' tsp. coarse black pepper

6 large Idaho potatoes

1 large onion, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 4'5 degrees.

'. Liberally oil six (6-oz.) Pyrex glass dessert dishes or custard cups. Place custard cups in a 9 x 13-inch disposable pan.

3. Place the pan of cups in the oven to heat.

4. Place eggs in a small bowl and beat. Add salt and pepper, mix well, and set aside.

5. Fill a large bowl with cold water and, as you peel potatoes, place them in water to prevent browning.

6. Heat remainder of oil in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat.

7. Cut potatoes lengthwise into halves or quarters so they fit into food processor feed tube. Process potatoes and onions using the blade that creates thin, shoestring-like strips.

8. Transfer potatoes and onions to a large bowl, add egg mixture and heated oil from stovetop, mix very well. Remove any large pieces of potatoes or onions that weren't processed properly.

9. Remove heated cups from the oven and spoon potato mixture evenly into hot, oiled cups.

10. Bake at 4'5? for 1 hour, or until the tops look crunchy and sides look golden and browned. Loosen edges with a knife, unmold, and serve on a platter.


Make this in a 9-inch-round glass baking dish as a potato kugel pie and bake for about 1 hour or longer, depending on desired crunchiness.

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In search of dairy’s meaning

There are many reasons given for eating dairy on Shavuot, but most leave the intellectual appetite unsatisfied.

The custom is recorded in the halachic literature as early as the 12th century, and it is widely observed by both Ashkenazim and Sephardim. But despite being a longstanding and widespread tradition, its meaning remains obscure.

Many of the authors who refer to the practice seem strained to provide multiple explanations, and for good reason: Dairy simply is absent from the list of Shavuot themes mentioned in biblical and early rabbinic sources. There is no clear connection between dairy and the wheat harvest, the offering of two wheat-bread loaves and first fruits in the Temple, and the revelation on Mount Sinai. Symbolic foods abound in Jewish holiday traditions, but unlike those we eat on Passover and Rosh Hashanah, nowhere in the Torah or Talmud do we find anything about dairy on Shavuot.


The three faces of Ruth

A new look at the relationship between Ruth and Naomi

The book of Ruth is of course a story about choosing — about choosing us. It’s read, correctly, as the story of a woman who forsakes her own people to join the Israelites, leaving familiarity and safety for the terrifying rollercoaster life of a Jew, becoming the ancestor of King David as her reward.

That is a beautiful and satisfying story.

But I read mysteries, not works of uplift, and to anybody brought up on Sherlock Holmes and his descendants, a question intrudes itself — why does no one seem to see Naomi and Ruth together? Why, when they walk back to Bethlehem, do the women talk only to and about Naomi? Why does Ruth vanish from the story as soon as she gives birth to a child, which is given to Naomi? Why do the women talk only to Naomi about the baby? Why are the two women together in Bethlehem only when they are alone?


Shavuot recipes

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