One month, three celebrations with food

March is a month filled with anticipation. Will it march in fiercely like a lion or enter gently like a lamb, as the verse predicts the continuation of robust wintry weather or the start of the calm spring season? I’ve been enjoying our short spring season with the early morning bird songs. Even the raucous green conure parrots as the skitter loudly across the sky in pairs or larger groups.

breakfast time

My family enjoyed three different types of food from three different origins to mark the three March celebrations.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday announces the start of the forty day long Lenten period. In some locations, most notably New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro, it’s no-holds-barred celebrations to bring in the period of reflection and privation. And, oh, the food … especially in New Orleans.

I decided to make a variation on the famous gumbo of New Orleans with a foil-wrapped concoction. First cut you equal-sized pieces aluminum foil. Preheat your oven at moderate. Assemble a mix of large shrimp, chunks of chicken breast, sliced sausage (turkey in our household), sliced zucchini, and cut up yellow pepper in each piece of oil. Top this mixture with about one tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper. Close the foil packets tightly, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes in a moderate, 350 degree oven.

For St Patrick’s Day in the past few years, I’ve cooked corned beef and cabbage. The corned beef brisket comes with all the necessary spices and instructions. In the last hour or so, I add wedges of cabbage. There have been no potatoes in the pantry for a month or two, so I chose the pair the meat and vegetables with polenta. I made the polenta tart with cherry tomatoes. (The recipe for this dish is found in the 2-23-21 post, Foraging in the Fridge.)

Purim is a Jewish festival for which a huge repertoire of symbolic foods exist. Diverse as the delicacies for the holiday are, they also differ according to where the Jews have lived (see 3/9/20 and 3/2/21 posts). In Iran, Purim often overlapped with the celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Dishes using lots of greens are central to this festivity. This recipe for white skillet pizza with spring greens and egg crossed my desktop late last week and I thought, what in interesting Sunday dinner. And a way to celebrate Purim a la Persia.

White skillet pizza with spring greens and egg (https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/white-skillet-pizza-with-spring-greens-and-an-egg). Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 500°. Place a 12″ cast-iron skillet in oven and preheat 10 minutes.

ingredients assembled

Mix two grated garlic cloves with 1/3 cup of olive oil and set aside. Mix 3 cups of grated mozzarella with about 2 cups of Fontina cheese (I used only mozzarella because of Constant Companion’s sensitivities). Thinly slice 3 scallions/spring onions. Trim and chop about half a bunch of broccoli rabe or 3 cups torn kale or Swiss chard.

Use 1 ½ pound of store-bought pizza dough, halved and room temperature. Using lightly floured hands, stretch 1 piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface to an 11″ round.

ready for round 1 in the oven

Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle pan with cornmeal (enough to cover most of the surface). Carefully set dough in the pan. Brush dough with garlic-oil (you won’t need all of it); season with salt and pepper. Top dough with 2 cups cheese mixture, half of spring onions, half of broccoli rabe, and 4 anchovies, if using. Top with another ½ cup cheese mixture; season with more pepper. Bake pizza until crust is beginning to turn golden and cheese is melted, 6–8 minutes. Crack 1 egg into center of pizza; season with salt. Continue to bake until whites are just set and crust is golden brown, 5–6 minutes.

just out of the oven

Transfer pizza to a cutting board and brush edges with more garlic-oil (reserve remaining garlic-oil for second pizza). Top pizza with grated Parmesan and half of oregano. Using a microplane, grate a little bit of lemon zest over top of pie (I missed this last step).

The recipe calls for making two pizzas. I cut corners and made just one. If you want to go for two: sprinkle the cast-iron pan with cornmeal and make a second pizza with remaining dough and toppings.

One of the most known Purim sweet are the ubiquitous hamantaschen, tri-corner cookies fill traditionally with poppy seeds, now with chocolate. Here are two riffs on this famous cookie, one old, one quite recent.

everything is bigger in Texas!

“Who want’s putinetaschen ? “ 3/14/2022 – Yediot Aharonot news by Guy Morad 

The new Haman is Putin. He should meet the same fate!

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