Parshat Shemini

Fish cookies for this week’s parsha project. The cookie dough is the same that I used for my cow cookies last week. It is an easy to handle oil-based dough that makes cookies that taste buttery and keep remarkably well.

This week’s parsha discusses (among other things) the offering made on the eight day of the inauguration of the mishkan and also lists kosher and unkosher creatures. (for an interesting discussion of the connection between the eighth day of the inauguration of the mishkan and the listing of kosher and unkosher creatures, see At the Zoo, by Rabbi Hoffman, YU Torah Online 3/21/11)

I picked fish with fins and scales as the kosher creature to make for this parsha project because of the interesting parsha articles that I read (see below) that discussed the connection between Jews and fish, and the symbolism of fins and scales.

I found on E-How an interesting idea for making fish out of a large and small heart shapes. Just place the hearts on their sides and nestle the point of the small heart into the curved end of the larger heart. The large heart is the body, and the small heart is the tail fin.

Pastry tips (or straws) make a scales on the body of the fish. An offset spatula, a toothpick, and the curves of the heart shaped cutters mark the other parts of the fish. A little egg paint adds some color before baking and settles into the cuts to darken them and add definition.

Just mix egg yolk with a little water (very tiny bit) and add food coloring.

You could make royal icing for decorating the fish after baking, too.

Fish Cookies

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
8 ounces flour (about 1 3/4 cups cups flour)

Egg Yolk Cookie Paint (for use BEFORE baking only)
egg yolk
1 tsp. water
food coloring

Beat sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla for ten minutes. Add the baking powder. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Add more as needed. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.

Roll out the dough 1/8″ thick.  Cut, mark and color with egg glaze as desired and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges.

To shape the fish: Cut out two hearts, one large and one small. Place them on their sides and fit the point of the small heart in the curve of the large heart. The point of the large heart is the face of the fish, and the small heart is the tail. Use tools to cut out details such as an eye, a mouth, gills, scales, and the fins. Glaze with egg yolk, if desired, before baking to add color and deepen the definition of the cut details. If you want to use different colors, divide up the egg glaze into separate bowls and add food coloring. One drop of food coloring will add very deep color. After coloring, bake the cookies.

Here are some more cookie paint ideas. And here (and here) is Bill Yosses’s cookie paint.

If you bake the cookies before coloring, you can use tinted royal icing instead to color the cookies. You can buy ready make icing from the Wilton aisle of the craft store or make this recipe or this or this (and here are more fish cookie decorating ideas from Wilton, including the idea of tinting the cookie dough itself before rolling it out).  Yet one more idea for decorating cookies post baking is using fondant.

Here are some interesting parsha commentaries specifically talking about fish:

The Alt-Neu Jew
Fins and Scales

And this: Why fins AND scales?

About kosher animals in general and the parsha

and here

And on the significance of the eighth day.

More links relating to the parsha: here and here at Parshablog

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2 Responses to “Parshat Shemini”

  1. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) Says:

    These are REALLY pretty. I love how you shape them using heart cutters. So clever!

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