Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Purim is just around the corner and people have already started to plan ahead for their gift baskets, figuring out creative ways to use up the chometz in their pantries and refrigerator before Passover.
Emily Paster’s cookbook, Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving (Storey), is jam-packed with delicious edible gifts that you can either use for mishloach manot or are ideal additions to your Shabbat menu. Emily, a food blogger and avid cook, is also the author of The Joys of Jewish Preserving: https://www.cjnews.com/food/the-shabbat-table-life-just-peachy
Food Swap contains more than 75 unique recipes for foods that are perfect for food swapping, including scrumptious candies, baked goods, soups, dips, sauces, condiments, jams, and pickles. They are also ideal for bake sales, edible gifts, and entertaining. Emily offers guidance on strategies for successful swapping and the basics on how to start and maintain your own food swap.
When giving food gifts, Emily recommends listing all the ingredients in homemade goodies in case of allergies. You’ll find recipes for Preserved Lemons, Mini Cranberry-Orange Quick Breads, Ancho Chile Pecans, English Toffee, and The World’s Best Salted Caramel Sauce.
Butternut Squash & Apple Soup is simple and tasty, and Tuscan White Bean & Rosemary Dip works well for gift giving and also pairs perfectly with challah as a dip or spread. Emily’s Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies are an easy breakfast for Shabbat for the cookie monsters in your family, make a scrumptious snack, and are kid-friendly, too.
If you’re looking for more delectable ideas for edible gifts for Purim, Leah Koenig offers up both sweet and savoury versions of hamantaschen: https://www.cjnews.com/food/shabbat-table-heavenly-hamantaschen
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & APPLE SOUP (Pareve or Dairy)
Makes 4 pints
Emily writes: “My version of butternut squash soup is made with apples for sweetness and lots of warm spices. If I were serving this soup at my home, I would add a half cup of cream at the end of cooking. I do not call for cream here, to make this appealing to as many people as possible, but you can suggest that the recipient add a splash of cream before serving.”
8 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (from 2 medium-size squash)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 apples, peeled, quartered, and chopped
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp each ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground nutmeg
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup apple cider (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the squash for 20 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the apples, ginger, and garlic, and stir to combine. Saute until tender but not browned, lowering the heat as necessary, about 10 minutes. Add the cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes, and continue to saute a few more minutes until fragrant.
Add the roasted squash and the broth and cider (if using) and stir to combine.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes.
Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, or by transferring it to a food processor or high-speed blender. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat or swap. Serve hot.
Packaging: Pour the soup into clean glass pint jars and decorate with a label or hanging tag. Label as perishable.
TUSCAN WHITE BEAN & ROSEMARY DIP (Pareve)
Makes 2 (8-ounce) jars
This no-cook white bean dip is the perfect item to make when you sign up for a food swap at the last minute. It is also a great choice for a beginner cook. This recipe comes from Genevieve Boehme, a veteran of the Chicago Food Swap. The first time she brought it to a swap, it flew off the table, and made her wish that she had brought more jars. To make this item in larger quantities, consider using dried beans, which require more forethought than canned but are less expensive. Just follow the instructions on the package for soaking and cooking the beans.
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained and rinsed well
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2–4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (the juice of 1 lemon)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the beans and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice to taste, olive oil, and rosemary. Process until very smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more oil, or water, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for several hours before serving, to allow flavours to develop. It may seem bland initially, but the flavour will intensify over time. If still a little bland after a few hours, stir in more lemon juice.
Variation: This recipe can be adapted by substituting different herbs for the rosemary or by adding sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, or pitted chopped olives.
Packaging: Pack the dip into clean 8-ounce glass jars and decorate with a label or hanging tag. Label as perishable. (Food Swap contains beautiful, punch-out labels perfect for decorating your jars.)
EMILY’S OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES WITH PEPITAS & DRIED CRANBERRIES (Dairy)
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Emily shares: “There are always a lot of baked goods at a food swap, but these breakfast cookies always stand out because they are more than just an indulgence. With whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries, these cookies are filling and nutritious, making them an ideal on-the-go breakfast or snack. I developed this recipe to be nut-and peanut-free because many schools today ban these common allergens. I wanted these cookies to be something that a child could bring to school for a snack or in a lunchbox. If nuts are not a concern for your family, feel free to replace the pumpkin seeds with your favourite nut for added protein.”
For the Cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Line three baking sheets with silicone baking liners or parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, the vanilla extract, and the orange zest, and mix well.
Gradually add the flour mixture and mix thoroughly, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in the rolled oats, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.
With dampened hands, scoop balls of dough the size of ping-pong balls onto the cookie sheets. You should get 9 cookies to a sheet. Flatten the balls gently with a spatula or your hand.
Bake 15 to 17 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, maple syrup, and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Allow the glaze to harden before storing the cookies.
Packaging: Package 6 cookies together in a small bakery box or treat bag for swapping.