Remarkable moments, those deeply significant fragments of time that are indelibly imprinted in life’s memory book, are few and far between. In November I went on a journey and encountered so many of these moments, one after another, it felt like I was in a waking dream. As I try to collect the memories to preserve and share them with you here, I feel profound gratitude.
Our journey started in Munster, Germany. My husband and I left home on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which signaled a synchronicity that was to follow us throughout our trip. We were on our way to the staging of my husband’s dramatic musical, Imagine This, a story that takes place in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The show, which is loosely based on true events, tells the story of a Jewish theatre troupe at the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A cast and orchestra of 100 Germans gathered to tell a difficult story that shed light on a dark part of their country’s history. Some of the people who participated were the descendants of Nazi soldiers, and they took their solemn task to heart. Seeing this show performed in German, and witnessing the actors and musicians as they told the story with such care and grace, was one of the most moving experiences of our lives.
After the show, the German cast and crew welcomed us with open arms and threw a banquet on stage in our honor. Everybody participated and brought home-cooked dishes. I looked around at the caring, kindly faces of this group and my heart was full. They worked so hard to bring this challenging story to life.
As we walked through the buffet line, looking at all of the carefully prepared dishes, I was struck by a batch of homemade Apple Rose Tarts. They were so sweet and lovely, and somehow symbolic of the beauty rising out of this event. They represented the energy of growth and change.
I was inspired to make something similar when I returned home. I followed the process described here, but added a more exotic homemade filling of dates, rosewater and cardamom. The result was very special, and vegan too (make sure you choose a dairy-free puff pastry if you want to keep it dairy free).
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and my mind keeps wandering back to this emotional day we experienced in Munster. This evening, as we light the Shabbat candles, we remember 11 million lives stolen, 6 million of them Jews. Innocent lives, murdered. We remember the past, and we actively resist the evil energy that led to this atrocity. Anti-semitism is on the rise across the world. Stay vigilant, stand strong, speak out. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
I offer these Apple Date Rose Tarts in remembrance. May we never forget.
Production photos courtesy of Stephan Drewianka, www.musical-world.de
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Michael Berkowits’ Chicken Paprikash
Apple Date Rose Tarts
- 3/4 cup dates, pitted (about 12-13 dates)
- 6 tablespoons hot water
- 1 1/2 tablespoon rosewater
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash salt
Apple Rose Ingredients
- 2 whole fuji apples, or any colorful red-toned apple for baking
- 2 1/2 cups apple juice
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Flour (for rolling out pastry)
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (choose a non-dairy pastry to keep this recipe dairy free)
- Powdered sugar (for garnish)
- Before getting started, be sure that you have thawed your puff pastry (it takes about 40 minutes at room temperature). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin lightly with nonstick spray and set aside.To make the date filling: start by softening the dates in 6 tbsp cup of hot water for about 10 minutes.
- Once the dates have softened, place them in a blender along with the soaking water and remaining filling ingredients. Blend on low until you reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from blender and place in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine the apple juice and lemon juice.
- Cut the apples in half lengthwise (do not peel).
- Remove the core by carefully carving it out with a knife.
- Place the flat side of the cut apple halves down, with the stem end facing to the side. Slice the apple halves into very thin slices.
- Immediately transfer the slices to the bowl of apple and lemon juice to avoid any browning.
- When you are finished slicing the apples, place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 3-5 minutes, or until the apple slices are soft enough to bend and roll without breaking. Alternatively, you can cook them on the stovetop.
- Lightly dust your countertop or flat surface with a thin layer of flour, then roll out the puff pastry until you have a rectangle approximately 12x9 inches in size.
- Cut the dough into 6 even strips, about 2 inches wide and 9 inches long.
- Spread a thin layer of the date filling - a scant tablespoon's worth - on each strip of dough.
- Drain the apple slices.
- Arrange the slices side-by-side with the flat edge against the filling on each strip of dough. The slices should overlap and peek out over the top edge of the dough just slightly.
- Fold up the bottom edge of the dough, leaving the small parts of the apple slices that hang over the edge uncovered.
- Starting at one end, carefully roll the dough, making sure the apple slices are kept in place. You may need to gently tuck the slices down into the dough as you roll.
- Once you reach the end of the roll, seal the edge gently by pressing with your fingers.
- Place the final product into your lightly greased muffin tin. Repeat for the remaining roses. Cover with tin foil or parchment and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until they are completely cooked through the center (you will need to check the very center to make sure it is not doughy).
- Sprinkle the tops of the roses with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm or store in an airtight container once cool. These can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but are best served fresh.
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