Only Good Words for Savory Cupcakes

In a wonderful Russian play of the 60’s about love, kindness, and caring, there was a line that bothered me: “Even a cat appreciates a good word.” I could never understand the word “even” in this phrase  – why “even a cat”? What about dogs? Birds? People, after all? My grandmother, may she rest in peace, talked to her plants, and they grew like crazy. My brother, who has inherited her green thumb, sings to plants and recites poetry to them. His house looks like a garden.  But if good words have this power, imagine the harm that the bad words can cause!

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In Judaism, there is a concept called “Loshon HoRah” – bad or evil talk. The Torah explicitly states that the punishment for engaging in it is Tzoraas, a terrible affliction commonly translated as leprosy. It is so highly infectious that those afflicted are immediately isolated, the isolation strictly enforced. There is no treatment nor remedy for it, other than – according to the Torah! – Loshon Tov, good talk or even a good word. We spent this past Shabbos visiting friends whose youngest daughter, a four-year old, proudly demonstrated projects she had done at school. As the kids were learning the dangers of Loshon HoRah and the value of Loshon Tov, they have cut out and colored those huge lips you see on the photo, with a slit to open the mouth; they taped the top of a zip lock bag in the back, and pulled the zip part to the front through the slit. Finally, they attached signs distributed by the teacher: “ZIP YOUR LIP FROM Loshon HoRah.”  I am sure little Chanaleh internalized the lesson!

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This happened about 2600 years ago, during the times of Prophet Elisha, when there was great famine in the land, and the Aramean king BenHaddad used this opportunity to lay siege to the Jewish city of Samaria. Desperate, the Jewish king Jehoram sent his right-hand man to the Prophet who promised that by the same time next day, food would be so plentiful as to be sold for next to nothing. “Nah, – exclaimed the king’s messenger, – man, you’re nuts! You gotta be a total fake feeding me this kind of BS! Even if G-d made windows in heaven, how could this happen?” (Kings II).  “Fine, – calmly replied Elisha, – you’ll see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat of it.”

That night, four lepers were sitting by the city gate.  “Why should we sit here until we die? – they said, – If we try to enter the city, they’ll kill us, and anyway, they are dying of starvation themselves. Let’s head to the Aramean army tents – at least we’ll have a chance. If they don’t kill us, maybe they’ll feed us!” But when they approached the enemy camp, they found it abandoned.  Writes Rabbi Dr Nissan Mindel, “The siege of Samaria was broken, and the enemy fled in terror leaving so much food in their wake, that it became as plentiful and as cheap as in the years of plenty, and once again, the words of the prophet were fulfilled to the letter” (www.chabad.org). Apparently, during the night, Arameans heard the sounds of a great advancing army, an auditory illusion sent by H-shem to save the people of Samaria. Happily, the four lepers went from one tent to another, ate their fill, and grabbed as much gold and silver as they could carry. And in the middle of this gluttonous orgy, they stopped and said to each other,”What the heck are we doing? We were struck by leprosy for our sins, and no matter how rich we become by plundering these tents, it won’t help us! Let’s do something good for a change – let’s go into the city and report this to the king.”

And so they did, and were miraculously cured of their affliction. Thus, Loshon Tov, the good words, proved healing of the deadly disease caused by Loshon HoRah. Meanwhile, the king’s right-hand man was mowed down and trampled by a stampede of hungry people rushing to the tents to get some food. The words of the prophet were fulfilled once again: king’s, messenger saw cheap and plentiful food but never got to eat of it. As we were discussing this story with little Chanaleh’s older siblings, the great-grandchildren of Nissan Mandel, we talked about the famine: what did the ancient Israelis eat when there was nothing to eat?

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Jews Mallow (Jute Mallow), otherwise known as Egyptian spinach, was a food staple in the ancient Jewish culture. Full of all kinds of nutrients, including protein, it was something that grew in the wild, without being cultivated (http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet).  Mushrooms could also be gathered in the Northern Kingdom, as well as eggs of wild fowl.

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Since I couldn’t find Egyptian spinach, I just used the regular one, roughly chopped. Mushrooms were chopped as well, onions and garlic diced.  I used eggs just because after Passover, I haven’t had time to make aquafaba yet, but for a vegan version, feel free to use egg substitute of your choice.  The interesting ingredient here is Matzo Farfel.

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When you want to make matzah meal, you’d take whole matzahs and grind them. Most of them will grind into flour, but there will always be little pieces that are left “unground.” Those are called farfelech and are used in many different – and delicious! – ways.  In the old times, we used to grind matzah ourselves, but here – what a country! – both matzah meal and matzah farfel are sold in stores. As I had some left after Pesach, I used it instead of flour that I haven’t had a chance to buy yet (normally, I would use soy flour for this recipe, so it will be gluten free). I always think of using leftover matzah after Pesach as very appropriate, to remind us of the lowest levels of depravity to which we had sunk in Egypt and the necessity to redeem ourselves by acquiring positive traits, lifting ourselves spiritually step by step, day by day, until we reach Shavuos and the giving of the Torah.  Farfelech must be softened by covering them with hot water for a few minutes, then pouring off excess water.

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Meanwhile, you quickly stir-fry mushrooms with onion and garlic, and add spinach when mushrooms start giving off liquid. Stir-fry the whole thing together for another minute or two and turn it off.

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As Mr T. used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together!” Mix the veggies together with softened farfelech or soy flour, add eggs or whisked aquafaba, and season with salt and pepper.

I have a little cute cupcake / muffin maker that bakes seven mini-cupcakes in seven minutes.  At this time, I think of it as symbolic: seven times seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuos, and we count every day as yet another step bringing us up to a higher level of personal redemption, a spiritual exodus from slavery. Of course, you can just oil a muffin form and bake these savory bits of goodness in the oven.

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Experts explain that muffins are not as sweet as cupcakes and sometimes savory. On the contrary, cupcakes are miniature cakes.  I don’t see anything wrong with savory cupcakes and I think the difference is in the frosting: muffins don’t have it, but cupcakes do. In honor of a wonderful blogger, a purple person Melinda of https://purpleslobinrecovery.wordpress.com/, I made purple frosting for my savory cupcakes. Hi, girl friend, this is for you:  cannellini beans with some olive oil and beet juice are pureed in a food processor.

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Squeeze some garlic into it (as much as you can stand), season it with salt and pepper, and add some allspice for an extra zing. This spread is good with everything, but to top my savory cupcakes with it really makes a difference!

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These little bites of goodness, sprinkled by sumac – just for looks! – will definitely earn you all kinds of praise, Loshon Tov, but don’t forget the lesson little Chaneleh taught us: ZIP YOUR LIP FROM Loshon HoRah. As my grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say anything good, say nothing at all!”

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup matzo farfel (alternatively, 1 cup soy flour)
  • 1/2 pint mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 loosely packed cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 eggs or 1 cup of aquafaba, whisked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cannellini Spread:

  • 1 cup cannellini beans, precooked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon beet juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, squeezed
  • A pinch of allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or use cupcake maker. If using oven, mist muffin form with oil.
  • Pour hot water over farfel in bowl, keep covered for 5 minutes, drain excess water.
  • Stir fry onion with garlic until translucent, add mushrooms, stir fry together for 2 – 3 minutes until mushrooms are soft and giving off liquid. Add spinach, mix, stir fry together for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add stir fried vegetables to softened farfel or soy flour , add eggs or whisked aquafaba, season with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly. Fill muffin form or cupcake maker.
  • Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until firm and lightly golden. Bake in cupcake maker for 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make frosting (spread).  Place all ingredients into food processor, pulse until pureed into creamy mass. Scrape sides when necessary.
  • Top savory cupcakes with purple frosting while hot.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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69 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks very tasty. II like the idea of the bean spread. Also I can see you too use Pereg spices. I love them! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Ronit! As to Pereg spices, for Pesach there isn’t any other choice, and then I have them for the rest of the year. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shreya says:

    It’s looks amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Shreya, I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome and delicious and looks very tasty too. Great pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Welcome and yes so beautiful words.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re so sweet!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks delicious!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Pat, I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Osyth says:

    I’m not Jewish but I’m with your Granny …. really, don’t say nasty things – it’s a good law indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One doesn’t have to be Jewish, or anything else, for that matter, to be nice to people, animals, plants, etc. There is too much negativity in the world as it is; let’s try to spread some kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Osyth says:

        Applause for that statement ☺

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Jen says:

    Looks delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Jen, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. calmkate says:

    yes looks yummy, but i so appreciate the zip your lips within the historic setting, thanks Dolly! Much nicer saying than we use here in oz …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kate, I was also very impressed with this little project.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Joëlle says:

    Excellent. And your teapot matches the muffins! Have a nice day, Dolly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joelle! I usually try to match food with cat miniatures, but it doesn’t always happen. This one was a lucky shot. Have a great day as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Garfield Hug says:

    Really sounds tasty!! First time knowing about spicy cup cakes!! Thanks☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you like it! And if I make cranberry pizza, why not spicy cupcakes? It’s my kitchen – I can do whatever I want!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Garfield Hug says:

        Oooh cranberry pizza?! Sounds delicious as I love cranberries. Sound like a thin crust pie!!☺

        Liked by 1 person

  10. spearfruit says:

    A great recipe Dolly. And the story I related to and you provided me a good reminder. Thank you, have a happy day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Terry, and I am glad you like the story. When I was in a hospital in Russia, in a room with 15 other pre-op ladies, my grandmother not only brought homemade food for everyone every day, but also found a kind and encouraging word for each person. I wish I can cook or bake something for you, Terry! Have a peaceful day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. spearfruit says:

        That is very kind of you Dolly, thank you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Wonderful, the recipe and the story as well. But i also like this cupcake maker. Looks a little bit like borought from Area 51. 😉 Have a nice afternoon. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael! I don’t know Area 51; I saw it in Walmart a couple of years ago, and I thought it would be something cute to use with grandkids, then I started using it myself, and I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. I also dont know Area 51, and i think its better not to know this part of the USA. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am a curious cat – which part is that?

        Like

    1. Thank you for reblogging

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Looks very spacy 😉 And let me not forget the teapot which looks like an armchair. Funny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you again! I have a collection of cat miniatures and I usually try to match food with cats. This was a lucky shot!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes! Thank you for showing this artistic parts. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am not a food artist or a professional chef, and I take photos with my little cellphone, so I try to make up for it by using cats. Cats are always beautiful!

        Like

  13. Beets were gonna be my next guess! lol
    Sumac????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a purple Mediterranean spice with lemony taste. I use it often.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never heard of it before! Kool!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve used it in some recipes; you must’ve missed it there. It’s a berry (sumac bush) that gets dried and powdered. Sold mainly in Mediterranean stores.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Aha! Thanks for the explanation. Possibly missed it, because I seldom wonder into those stores! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Those stores are full of mysteries… Djinns are hovering over the shelves… Half-naked guries are lurking in the shadows… Not a nice place for a decent lady!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I love that Christians share the same words of God, as y’all!!
    Elisha is one of my fave prophets, because I was in a play once about him. (ANd I dated the guy who played Elisha!! That had nothing to do with liking Elisha, did it??)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, yes, Elisha lived about 600 years before y’all. And there is only one G-d, so we all share His words.
      I wonder what came first, liking or dating…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just a wee bit before my time……
        Oh yes!! Hear, O Israel: The Lord our G-d is one Lord: Deuteronomy 6:4
        Hmmmm, with humans, it’s hard to say! lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re so right!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for the shout out!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I already baked the purple cake but will not post it until you finish the entire house – as promised! That would be a true shout out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes ma’am!! Getting there!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Cake is yummy…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. (licking my lips in anticipation!)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Keep going, you’re almost there!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Huff, puff, blowing the house down!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting story and your results looks very delicious, Dolly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Irene!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sumith says:

    Beautiful pictires and sounds very delicious! Have a great week end Dolly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Sumith! You too have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Christy B says:

    That cupcake/muffin maker is adorable 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I bought it originally to bake with grandchildren, but then I found it so convenient!

      Like

  19. sweets67 says:

    I can smell the cooking. Do you use chicken fat?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish! Unfortunately, at some time in our lives, cholesterol makes an entrance into the kitchen and starts affecting ingredients.

      Liked by 1 person

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