Breaking the Fast by Lauren

Saturday, 15October, 2011

Breaking the Fast by Lauren

by travellinlb

Post image for Breaking the Fast by Lauren

Last weekend was the holiest of high holy days in the Jewish religion.  Now, ever since I had the choice after my Bat Mitzvah to continue going to Hebrew school or not, I stopped.  So, I’m a pretty bad Jew.  I never go to temple anymore and really don’t practice the religion in every day life.  But I do enjoy celebrating the Jewish holidays and taking the Jewish cuisine and giving it a modern twist.  Because at the heart of the festivities is family, food, and friends.  It’s a celebration of what is important, a celebration of life, and a new year.

Also last week, the world lost a man whose passion, creativity and brilliance changed all of our lives.  Steve Jobs pioneered personal technology and put it in the hands of the everyday man.   He believed in his mission to revolutionize the industry by successfully marrying design and technology.  And he did this because he took risks and didn’t care what others thought because he believed in himself.  I’m not going to write a Steve Jobs obituary here, as there are so many others, that can write more eloquently about him than I can.  But it actually affected me more than I ever thought it would.  As both Hilary and I met working at Apple and somehow are both now back there again, his death is illuminating me with light to face my own mortality and the unrelenting question of what am I doing with my life.

As Jobs talked about in his Stanford speech (and if you haven’t seen it, its one of the most amazing speeches watch HERE) “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. “  It’s enlighting his speech, to live everyday as if it’s your last.  As much as he was crazy to work for, as much as I hated being stuck in a cave day in and day out shooting an iPhone like it was Groundhog Day, as much as the politics were insane, there was something there that brought me back every day.  Maybe it was the perfectionism, maybe it was the highest production value for films, maybe it was working for a cool company, but in reality it was because I loved the people.  And even if the job doesn’t fill my soul, I did and still do love the people that I worked with at Apple.

To me the people in your life are a huge part of making it worth living.  It’s who you surround yourself with, and what you make of those relationships.  Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonment, a day of fasting and repenting for you sins and a chance to start a new.  To reflect upon what you have done in the last year, to make amends, and to promise to yourself  to improve to be a better person.  And after a day of fasting, you have the break the fast.  A gathering of family and friends that come together to eat after a 24hr fast.  And though I am a bad Jew, I do usually fast.  I don’t really know why since I don’t go to the services, but for whatever reason it seems the right thing to do, a clensing of the soul.  Living in Amsterdam there’s not a lot of Jews here anymore.  But there are a lot of expats.  And my friends Karyn & Fran who made the amazing French toast and incredible homemade Bagels at the last Ghettto-gether, had a break the fast party this year.  People from Holland, and Spain, the UK, America, Canada, a usual mix of people at any expat party.  There was the typical Bagels (homemade by Karen) and Lox, whitefish and kugel.  A great quiche, my chickpea saute and oven dried tomato and  lentil salad,and cupcakes from Amanda of Nomzilla Cupcakes. It was a coming together of not only religions to rejoice, but a coming together of people, of friends, in a new year.

Both recipes from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

Lentils with tomatoes and gorgonzola

250g puy lentils (I used green lentils)
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tbs red wine vinegar
Sea salt
3 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs chopped chives
3 tbs chopped coriander and 2 tbs chopped dill

100g mild gorgonzola, in small chunks

400g tomatoes
8 thyme sprigs
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar

  • Make the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 130C. Line a baking tray with baking paper, quarter the tomatoes and place in the tray, skin side down. Place the thyme sprigs on top, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Scatter a few pinches of sea salt on top.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Roast for 1.5 hours, until the tomatoes are semi-dried. Transfer to a plate to cool and discard the thyme sprigs. Allow to cool.

  • While the lentils are cooking, place the red onion in a medium bowl and cover with the red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt.
  • Drain the lentils, and while they are still warm, mix with the red onion. Add the olive oil and garlic.
  • Once the lentils have cooled, add in the herbs and the tomatoes. Sprinkle the gorgonzola on top. Drizzle the cooking juices from the tomatoes over the top.

Chickpea Saute with Swiss Chard and Greek Yogurt

200g Swiss chard
5 tbsp olive oil
400g carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
250g cooked chickpeas (for preference, rehydrated in water, drained, then simmered in fresh water for an hour and a half)
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ lemon, juiced
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
100g Greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil

Wash the chard, separate the stalks from the leaves, blanch the stalks for five minutes and the leaves for two, then chop both into ½cm dice.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan, add the carrots and caraway seeds, and sauté for five minutes. Add the chard and chickpeas, sauté for six minutes, then stir in the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

To serve, mix the yogurt, tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are warmish or even room temperature, pile them on plates and top with a teaspoon of the yogurt mix. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some more oil.




{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jodi October 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

I really enjoyed this post, Lauren. And the pictures are gorgeous!


travellinlb October 20, 2011 at 11:30 am

Thanks Jodi!


Anna October 22, 2011 at 1:37 am

Just like Jewish and other religious celebrations, the coming together and the celebrating together creates a unified reason to celebrate the blessings of a coming year, or a coming season. I love how in your recipe, the different ingredients come together and bring out a delightful dish perfect for a festival. I have used walnut oil instead of olive oil (because I ran out of olive oil, but guess what? it tasted real great too!) Thanks for the post!


travellinlb October 22, 2011 at 8:56 am

Very eloquently said Anna! And glad you liked the recipe. Love you blog and pics!


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