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 bad words can cause!

loshon-hora

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!

4-resized

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 Mindel, we talked about the famine: what did the ancient Israelis eat when there was nothing to eat?

jute mallow

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.

sav-muf-1

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 I first made it right after Passover, and 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 Matzah 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.

sav-muf-2.jpg

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.

sav-muf-4

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.

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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 days 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.

sav-muf-5.jpg

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, especially since today is a National Cupcake Lover’s Day (https://foodimentary.com/june-holidays), and I think the difference is in the frosting: muffins don’t have it, but cupcakes do. In honor of a great blogger, my favorite purple person Melinda of http://www.purpleslobinrecovery.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. 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!

sav-muf-7

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 matzah 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!

 

 

 

31 Comments Add yours

  1. I love you blog! Such wonderful stories and always with a delicious recipe. Are you surprised that one of this goyims favorite websites is http://www.chabad.org?
    It’s true, I’ve enjoyed it and the teachings for many years. It’s interesting the penalty is an highly infectious disease. Isn’t that exactly how bad words work especially when we use them toward others? It spreads to others either by malice or influence like a contagious disease infecting others. G-d is ever awe-some (worthy)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful comment, dear Laura! I really am surprised that you know and enjoy Chabad.org; it’s an amazing source of wisdom, and I am glad you derive inspiration from it. Many blessings to you, darling!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. spearfruit says:

    Great story and recipe Dolly and I echo your grandma’s saying that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all! My mom used to tell me this same thing when I was a small boy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Gary. I believe Pani Stacia did a good job with you and your siblings!

      Like

      1. spearfruit says:

        Yep…think she did Dolly!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My best regards to her, always!

        Like

  3. As usual, i love your stories and your recipes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mimi; you are too kind!

      Like

  4. purpleslob says:

    Well, Dolly, I certainly have some Loshon Tov for you!! Thank you for this lovely recipe!! And for the shout out!! And the beautiful frosting!! God bless you!!

    Like

    1. Many blessings to you and yours, dear purple person! As the kids say, LUL – Love You Lots!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your usual excellent philosophical story to introduce a recipe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick, for a kind word!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. lghiggins says:

    Savory cupcakes with purple frosting! They sound like a delicious, healthy treat. You are quite the storyteller, Dolly, making history and the stories of the Israelites come alive. Always so enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Linda; I am just having fun here, and I am always happy when other people enjoy my funky style.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Charlee: “Our Dada says this sounds interesting. I think he might try making it.”
    Chaplin: “Hmph. I bet we don’t get any, as usual.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pyshka: Do what we do, guys: one of you distracts Dad, while the other one grabs a yummy piece! I stole a whole bag of chicken breasts that was defrosting in the sink the other day and brought it to Uncle Barmalei. I personally am a vegetarian, but Uncle Barmalei loves chicken, so he let me sit in his place – aha!

      Like

  8. I can always count on learning something from you, Dolly! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Anna, you are so kind!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your “funky style” (your own words Lol) is fantastic for memorizing too.
    It’s so true, Dolly! With evil words, misfortune begins.
    I can currently understand the saying “Even a cat appreci a good word .” Here we have a black hangover who visits us again and again. He’s pretty shy. But he accepts food. Since he visited us twice, the (wild) birds have attacked him here, and claim the garden for their own. Now we have to feed the birds with cake pieces, similar to paying protection money. (Love the italian word “pizzo”). Lol
    Best wishes, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is adorable – paying protection to the birds in order to protect the cat!
      Thank you so much for your kind words, Michael. Have a great remainder of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The only way Dolly! 😉 But you will not believe how aggressive the birds can be. Best wishes to you too! Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  10. chattykerry says:

    I wish some of our world leaders had read the Torah… Your wonderful post brought back a memory of a favorite Egyptian soup made with Jew’s Spinach. I don’t know what they did to it but somehow they turned it into a glutinous meal fit for Klingons! Yours looks so much more appetizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Kerry! Now you got my curiosity going regarding that Egyptian soup. I’ve always liked a challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. chattykerry says:

        Here is a link to a recipe – https://norecipes.com/molokhia-recipe/
        I am sure a beautiful Jewish lady can do it justice. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are too kind, darling! Thank you for the link.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Saania2806 says:

    Love your blog, so interesting stuff 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Saania, for stopping by. I am glad to have discovered your blog – very impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Saania2806 says:

        🤗I’m happy to hear that, and it’s my pleasure 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  12. daisydust02 says:

    Sounds like a delicious, healthy treat.

    Liked by 1 person

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