MERLA'S RECIPE CORNER

There aren't many artists who don't like to cook. It's a very creative and nourishing thing to do. Although I own dozens of cook books (just ask Merv who wonders why in the world I "schlepp" them back and forth over the ocean so much), I still do most of my cooking by the feel and the taste of the dish, rather than by following a recipe. Seldom do I use any measuring spoon or cup. (Swiss Mennonite heritage shining through!)

Maybe it's because I'm usually in a hurry, and just don't take the time. Merv and I both have a wide pallet, and so I like to encompass many different countries in the dishes I present at the table. Anyway....

1) MERLA'S GALILEE CHICKEN

Several years ago I read in a booklet about Bibleland foods that grapes were often used in chicken dishes away back then.
I didn't see any recipe to illustrate that, so I devised one while living in Israel, as we had our very own grapes growing on the vines right outside my kitchen door. Our guests really love this recipe. Here it is:

Bake any parts of the chicken in seasoned extra virgin olive oil - eg. wings, or breasts, or legs - whatever - and bake them till they are halfway done. While this is going on, get out your blender, and put in it about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, several shakes of soya sauce, about 3 big globs of running honey, a few crushed fresh rosemary spikes, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and a bunch of red or green grapes (pit them if necessary.)

Put them all in at the same time, and whip them up. When chicken is half done in the oven, pour this slop over it, and continue to bake till done. The heady homey aroma would make any prodigal come home!!

2) ISRAELI DESSERT (for "chalva" lovers!)
What is "chalva?" - It's that sweet block of stuff made out of sesame seeds. You can pick it up at any Jewish deli. (I bring mine back with me from Israel in a plastic box) - and it's shredded - not the BOX - the "chalva" inside!
Now this is really going to be THE easiest dessert you've ever made. Get a large carton of whipping cream. Whip it up till ALMOST done, then add the shredded "chalva" to it (quantity to taste) and fold in gently with your beater on low. When all blended, use a spatula to spoon it into an ice cube tray.

Flatten it out nicely so there are no bumps, then freeze it for a couple of hours before serving. That's IT!!! I usually put half the "chalva" in, but you can suit your taste - put more in if you want to, but just make sure it's all blended. Then the neat part is that you can ask your guests what the dessert is.

VERY few can guess, but nearly everyone I've tried it on is crazy about it. I first tasted it at a string quartet rehearsal with Israeli musicians in Jerusalem at "hafsacha" (hahf-sa-CHA") = intermission. Merv LOVES this!

Jean's hamenstashan cookie recipe

Here is my version of the Hamesnstashen cookie recipe...ENJOY!

Sift together

3 c. flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp. baking powder

Cut in 1-1/4 c. butter
Add 3 eggs, well beaten

Mix to make a soft dough. chill for 15 - 20 minutes or overnight. but then let thaw to room temperature.
Cut in circles, fill and pinch into 3 corners. Place on well greased cookie sheet or on parchment paper and bake 400 F for 12 - 15 minutes or 350 F for approximately 20 minutes or only until lightly browned.

This recipe makes 3 cookie sheets of medium sized cookies.

FILLING

DATES

Heat chopped dates with some water, couple of tsp of lemon or lime juice and a bit of sugar. Cook till dates are soft and thickened.

APPLE

Heat chopped peeled apples, add a bit of water, bit of sugar, some cinnamon and a few raisins (softened by rinsing with hot water). Cook gently till soft and thickened.

APRICOT

Heat chopped dried apricots, a bit of water, bit of sugar, some orange juice. Cook till soft and thickened.

POPPY SEED

Whirl in blender poppy seeds, heat with a bit of milk, honey and cook till thickened.

DO NOT STORE IN PLASTIC CONTAINER as the cookie becomes too soft.