(Background/pxfuel.com; Barbie/Flickr dollyhaul CC BY-NC 2.0)
(Background/pxfuel.com; Barbie/Flickr dollyhaul CC BY-NC 2.0)

What would Barbie eat for Shabbat dinner?

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Is Barbie Jewish? If so, what would she serve for Shabbat dinner? Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg, Bay Area residents who co-wrote a 2005 documentary that explores the relationship between Jews and Barbie, have some thoughts.

“I always thought it was one of the great ironies of the 20th century that Barbie was created by a Jewish woman,” Shlain said to me after this summer’s “Barbie” movie opened. “When Ken and I co-wrote ‘The Tribe’ we used Barbie to explore Jewish identity, assimilation and the multitudes of what it meant to be Jewish.” (Ruth Handler invented the doll in 1959.)

The couple also shared their Shabbat recipes with me (adapted for space below).

“Challah, roast chicken and Barbie are all cultural symbols,” said Shlain, who has made dozens of films about cultural phenomena. “And when we made the documentary one of our goals … was to make sure everyone knew that Barbie was also a Jewish cultural symbol.”

If you want to serve a Barbie dinner for Shabbat, you can “accessorize” with oven-roasted potatoes, beet-tahini salad dressing and parve Turkish coconut puddings.

(From left) Tiffany Shlain's challah with pink topping featuring Himalayan salt and dried rose petals, Turkish coconut pudding with pomegranate seeds, and Ken Goldberg's roast chicken. (Photo/Faith Kramer)
(From left) Tiffany Shlain’s challah with pink topping featuring Himalayan salt and dried rose petals, Turkish coconut pudding with pomegranate seeds, and Ken Goldberg’s roast chicken. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Ken Goldberg’s Roast Chicken

Serves 4-6

  • Oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3- to 5-lb. whole chicken
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons or oranges
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence or Italian herb seasoning mix
  • ¼ cup water or white wine

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Oil large metal baking pan. Scatter onions on bottom. Discard internal organs and rinse chicken. Combine salt and pepper. Rub bottom of chicken with ¼ tsp. of this mix. Place chicken breast side up on onions. Separate skin over breasts. Insert garlic and rosemary under skin.

Halve lemons. Squeeze juice over chicken. Place halves inside. Sprinkle chicken with remaining salt and pepper. Combine flour and herbs. Lightly sprinkle over exposed chicken. Pour water in pan.

Roast on oven’s middle rack for 10 minutes. Turn pan 180 degrees. Roast 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees. Roast 45 minutes. Check for doneness. (Cut into joint between leg and breast. If raw looking, roast longer.) Rest 10 minutes. Serve with pan juices.

Option: Remove breast skin, cut into squares and serve separately.

Tiffany Shlain’s Challah

Makes 1 large loaf

  • 1 cup hot water (95-105 degrees)
  • 2¼ tsp. fast-acting or instant yeast
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • About 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • ¼ cup canola oil, plus extra for bowl and pan
  • ½ Tbs. salt
  • Pink Topping (see below)

Early in the day you intend to bake, combine water, yeast, and sugar in large bowl. Let sit 30 minutes. Stir 2 cups flour into yeast bowl. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with ¼ cup oil. Mix into flour and yeast. Slowly mix in 1½ cups of flour. (Add water or flour by tablespoon if too dry or wet).

Dust work surface and hands with flour. Knead 8-12 minutes, adding flour if needed until dough is smooth, elastic and springy. Place in oiled, large bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise for 5 hours.

Separate dough into 3 equal balls. Oil baking sheet. Flour work surface. Roll balls into 3 18-inch ropes. Place on baking sheet. Braid. Pinch and tuck ends under. Cover. Let rise 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat second egg. Brush over challah. Sprinkle generously with Pink Topping.

Place sheet in center of oven. Bake 10 minutes. Coat newly exposed areas with egg and Pink Topping. Bake another 15-20 minutes until golden.

Pink Topping: Combine 1½ Tbs. coarse pink Himalayan salt (or any coarse sea salt), 1½ Tbs. sesame seeds, 2½ tsp. crumbled dried rose petals and 2½ tsp. crumbled dried mint. (Note: Shlain also uses “everything bagel” seasoning to top her challah when she’s not using Pink Topping.)

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].