Tasty Tuesdays! Hamanstashen Cookies


Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 20 min (rest dough overnight)
Cooking: 12 to 15 min
Makes around 60 cookies

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 Lb. margarine (can be butter)
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven at 350F. Mix all ingredients by hand or with the k form of a stand mixer. Knead until it comes together. Wrap into plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hour or overnight. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut 3” circles and spoon 1 teaspoon of filling in the center. Pinch the edges to form 3 corners. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk). Bake until lightly brown, between 12 and 15 minutes.

Chocolate filling:
½ cup brown sugar
6 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients until well combined.

Apricot filling:
2 cups. Dried pitted apricots (can be any dried fruits you like)
Enough water to cover
Cook until the apricots become soft. Add water just to cover until it is cooked. Process in a food processor or with the hand mixer. Do not add too much water while cooking, as it will be too liquid for a filling. If that happens add enough almond powder or crushed pumpkin seeds to make a paste.

Tips and info:
Hamantashen are triangular, filled cookies, which are traditionally served on the Jewish festival of Purim. These filled cookies are supposedly named after the Persian king’s royal adviser Haman. He wore a three cornered hat so these cookies are triangular. Haman took a dislike of the Jews, particularly a Jew named Mordechai, because Mordechai did not want to bow to him. So Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. He told the King that the Jews did not follow the King’s laws. The King gave Haman the fate of the Jewish people. But Mordechai had a niece named Esther. The king of Persia, Ahasuerus fell in love with her, married her and made her Queen. Esther told the King about Haman’s plot and saved the Jews.
A good question is: why Jews would want to immortalize their enemy Haman by eating cookies named after him?. These cookies were originally called Mohntashen, which means “poppy-seed pockets” in German. The tradition to eat them on this festival came from Germany where they were very popular. It is said that eating an image of Haman’s hat is a way to symbolically destroy his memory.
Today most are filled with jam or other very creative fillings. But poppy seeds used to be the popular filling.

Tasty Tuesdays! Pizza Week!

Unanimously loved, pizza was brought to America by soldiers coming back from Italy after WWII. It became part of American food culture and is now considered one of the best comfort foods ever!
MY Pizza


Recipe by Isabelle Lapin
Makes around 10 portions
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 15-20 minutes

2 .1 Lbs. All purpose flour
1 cube of fresh yeast (around 42g, 1.1/2oz.)(14g. active dry yeast or 2 packets of instant dry yeast, depending on the brand the number of packets may vary)
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Tomato sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, mushrooms, hart of palm, artichokes, peppers, onions, olives, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme), cheese (mozzarella, goat cheese, Swiss cheese, cheddar, brie, or a mixture of your choice), you can also put meats (sliced salami or pepperoni) or tuna.

For a desert pizza:
Heat the oven at 405F. Roll out the dough, spread soft Nutella on it, and then spread 2oz. of butter cut up in pieces on top. Bake for 15 minutes. You can slice banana on top and sprinkle with coconut. Check the pizza after the 10 first minutes in the oven. Instead of the Nutella melt 8oz. of chocolate with 2oz. of butter.

In a bowl put the flour, salt, and olive oil, add the yeast dissolved in the water. Knit the dough until soft consistency. Form a ball, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. Roll out the dough. Place it on floured oven tray. Put your favorite toppings. Drizzle with olive oil before baking at 405F for around 15 to 20 minutes. Check the top, the cheese should be melted.

Tip and info:
Cut the vegetables in very thin slices or small pieces because the cheese tends to cook faster. If you are using fresh herbs, hide them under the cheese so that they don’t burn.
No, pizza did not originate in Italy but was first baked by the Greeks. It was first round and flat bread topped with various foods like potatoes, spices and olive oil. Tomatoes were not discovered at that time. In the 18th century, the chef of queen Margherita, Rafaelle Esposito made a very special pizza just for her. He baked a pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozarella cheese and fresh basil ( to represent the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green.) in Naples. The pizza Margharita was born. Variations began to be made in different parts of Italy. In Bologna, for example, meat began to be added. After World War II pizza spreads to America, France, England, and Spain.
Some popular pizza toppings in Japan are squid and Mayo Jaga (mayonnaise, potato and bacon). In the U.S. pepperoni is the most famous topping, before mushroom, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onions. Each person (men, women, children) in America eats about 46 slices a year. Seventeen percent of all restaurants in America are pizzerias. Thirty- six percent of Americans considers pizza the perfect breakfast. Women are twice likely as men to order vegetables on their pizza. Finally, ninety-three percent of Americans eat at least one pizza per month.

Tasty Tuesdays! Recipes from the M.Y. After School Kitchen

We are thrilled to bring you a wonderful new weekly feature: Tasty Tuesdays! Each week, our Manhattan Youth After School cooking Instructor Isabelle will treat us to a family-friendly recipe, along with the backstory of that food.

Take a look at this week’s recipe: Bread Pudding!

In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes. Nowadays, it shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants. It has gained a reputation of comfort food and chef uses all kind of fresh bread instead of leftovers. In New Orleans they even use King cake ( a kind of cinnamon roll) and fry it.

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 45 to 55 min
Makes 8 to 10 adult portions

½ cup (3 ½ oz.) sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
14 oz. Challah bread cubed (any bread you like is good)
2 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
9 large eggs
2 ½ cups heavy cream or milk
2-½ cups milk
¾ tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon + ½ tsp.
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. clove
½ tsp. allspice
Zest of 2 oranges
Optional: 1-cup raisins or currants or dried cranberries or any other dried fruits.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13” baking dish or 10 ramequins. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. of white sugar with brown sugar and ½ tsp. of cinnamon, set aside. Whisk yolks with sugar, spices and salt. Whisk in the cream and milk. Add cubed bread, sliced banana and orange zests. Mix well. Let the bread soak for around 30 minutes. Put the mixture in the dish and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake until custard is set, pressing the center with your finger reveals no runny liquid or dip a knife, the blade should come out clean, around 45 minutes. Let it cool until the pudding is set and just warm.

Orange-caramel sauce:
Preparation: 5 min
Cooking: 10 min
Makes 1 cup

½ cup (3 ½ oz.) brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2-½ Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. orange juice (can be liquor or extract)
1 tsp. orange zest

Whisk sugar and cream together in a small saucepan. Add the orange zest. Set over medium heat until well combined. Continue to cook whisking frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Whisk in the butter and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the orange juice. Let it cool until warm. Serve with the bread pudding.

Info and tips:
Bread pudding has the most common (plebeian) origins. It appears in the early 11th and 12th centuries in Europe, as cooks look for ways to use stale bread. In 13th century England, bread pudding was know as “poor man’s pudding” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes. Nowadays, it shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants. It has gained a reputation of comfort food and chef uses all kind of fresh bread instead of leftovers.

Basically, the dish is made by soaking bits of stale bread and any add-ins (like dry and fresh fruits, nuts, spices like star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, herbs like basil or mint…) with a custard sauce before baking. You can vary the type of bread and any ingredients you choose to add according to your taste and your inspiration. The custard is a mixture of milk or cream, whole eggs or egg yolks and sugar.

The French word “pouding” certainly comes from the English word “pudding”. And the English word “pudding” is probably derived from the French word “boudin”. Boudin means “small sausage” in latin (botellus) and refers to the Medieval European puddings with encased meats. Puddings were at first savory and were very similar to sausages, often boiled in special pudding bags or casings.

Manhattan Youth on NY1

New York 1′s news crew stopped by the Downtown Community Center last week for a story on “Fit Kids: Finding Free or Affordable Activities for Children.” They interviewed Bob Townley, Executive Director of Manhattan Youth, and used some footage of our swimming pool and tumbling classes for their segment.

The print version of the story quotes Mr. Townley saying, “We give out over a million dollars a year in scholarships.”

Click the image below to read the story and watch the news segment.
Fit Kids - MY on NY1

And click here to see how you can get fit affordably or for free with Manhattan Youth!

Tritons Swim Team Breaking More Records

Thank you all for another great meet on Sunday! We had a lot of amazing swims as we wrapped up the fall semester!

Your swimmers ended the semester on a high note, as they set 7 new team records and swam 80 Personal Best Times (out of 92 total swims). We also had 7 swimmers drop 10 or more seconds off their previous best time!

Our “Ten off the Top” swimmers this meet were:Manhattan Youth Aquatics
Charlie K. – 25 Butterfly
Charles M. – 50 Butterfly
Claire G. – 50 Backstroke
Lachlan B. – 50 Backstroke
Nina G. – 100 I.M.
Olivia C. – 50 Backstroke
Shozo T. – 50 Backstroke

And our new team record holders are:
8 & Under:
Jake H. – 50 Breaststroke
Jake H. – 50 Butterfly
Olivia C. – 200 I.M.
9 & Over:
Adam L. – 100 Freestyle
John L. – 25 Butterfly
Tommy C. – 50 Butterfly

200 Freestyle Relay
Haley C., Claire G., Weston D., Adam L.

Congratulations, everyone! We’re so proud of all the hard work all of our swimmers have put in this semester!

As a reminder, this week marks the end of the fall semester, and we will resume on Monday, February 2nd for the first practice of the spring semester. Please watch over the next few days for an email detailing spring semester dates!

This Weekend at the Center — Spring Schedule Now Available!

We hope that you have been staying safe and warm during this winter-wonderland storm! Over here at the Center, we have been bundling up tight, and getting ready for another exciting weekend of activities and programming.

New Drop-In Schedule is Now Available!Cara's School
The new schedule for our Drop-In Classes at The Center is now available. As Community Center Members, you may attend many of our drop-in classes or programs. These classes are either included in membership, or available at a nominal fee for members. “Today at the Community Center” on our home page will always show the current day’s schedule. Be sure to check out the latest activities and programming available for the whole family at The Center!
Click here for the Spring Drop-In Schedule.  

After-School Semester Begins Next Week! 
opening day afterschoolA new semester of After-School is about to begin – Be sure to register or re-enroll today! We have another exciting semester full of fun, stimulating, and educational classes for your child. Choose from activities such as cooking, dance, visual arts, sports, digital media, and much, much more. As always, our goal is for your child to participate in project-based activities, finish homework assignments, and get physical exercise every day that school is in session. We work closely with parents, teachers and school administrators to provide the sports, arts and enrichment activities necessary to give your child a well-rounded education.
Click here for more information on our After-School Program, and to register today!

High School Testing Prep by S&S
S&S Prep Specialized High School Test Prep has begun enrollment of 7th grade students for their two-hour Diagnostic Exam. This specialized test prep program begins on March 7th and includes 6 Saturday sessions from March through June 2015 at The Center. S&S will also be offering weekly Test Prep Sessions for 8th graders in September and October.
Total fee including deposit: $755 for those enrolling by February 1st, and $795 for those enrolling after this “early enrollment” period. Call (845) 323-7429 or email coolmath3@aol.com with any questions.

And here is your full weekend schedule.
MY Weekend Schedule

This Weekend at the Center — Spring Registration and New Classes

Happy belated Martin Luther King Jr. Day! We hope that you had a wonderful holiday weekend. Registration is now open for spring classes. Click here for the registration form.

Here’s a peek at some of the classes and activities now included with your family membership!

Mini Mozarts!
Our Suzuki-based Early Childhood Music Program is designed to introduce children to the fundamentals of classical music: rhythm, melody, harmony, tempo, dynamics and articulation. In class, children explore instruments, play rhythmic games and learn to move to music. They also play finger strengthening, physical coordination and fine motor development games in preparation for future instrumental study. In the Suzuki approach to musical instruction, parental involvement is crucial to the musical development of the child. Therefore, we encourage parents and caregivers to participate and enjoy this exciting class along with their child.
Tuesdays, 10am AND 11am. Ages 12 months to 3 years old. 

Make A Mess: Arts and Crafts

Your child will get busy with clay, paper, feathers and more while exploring the world of crafting! Every week, your little one will create their very own themed craft to take home for all to enjoy. Come dressed to Make A Mess! Led by our experienced head art teacher, this series of classes gives your child the opportunity to grow within their class for an accelerated learning environment. Each class focuses on one specific area of creative learning: Cooking, Painting, Science, and Crafts. Your child will acquire new skills and knowledge all while having fun! These classes require registration and are open only to members.
NEW CLASS TIME! Tuesdays, 1:00pm. Ages 18 months to 3.5 years old.

Pottery Painting!
Choose from an extensive collection of bisque ware such as mugs, plates, piggy banks and boxes to paint. We will glaze and fire your pottery so you can take the piece home for the family to enjoy! (Please note, although there is no additional fee to participate, this is a pay-for-what-you-make activity.)
Fridays, 10:00am AND 11:00am Ages 3 to 4 years and under. Sundays, 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Ages 3 years and up!

Make a Mess: Cooking – Additional Class Time Now Available!
By popular demand, we have added another class time for our Make a Mess: Cooking program! Children learn food groups, shapes, flavors and cooking techniques in a fun and accessible way. Adult and child work together to create their very own snack in every class! Adult participation required. Led by our experienced head art teacher, this series of classes gives your child the opportunity to grow within their class for an accelerated learning environment. Each class focuses on one specific area of creative learning: Cooking, Painting, Science, and Crafts. Your child will acquire new skills and knowledge all while having fun! These classes require registration and are open only to members.
Mondays, 10:00am AND 11:00am. Ages 18 months to 2.5 years; 2.5 years to 3.5 years.
NEW CLASS TIME! Thursdays, 10:00am. Ages 18 months to 3.5 years

Storybook Art
Let your child explore a new artistic dimension to story time! From “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to “Strega Nona”, little ones create pieces of art with a literary spin. Using paint, yarn, glue and more, this class will tap into the creative world behind their favorite books.
Fridays, 1:00pm. Ages 18 months – 4 years. $10/visit.
All these classes, and more, are included in your Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center Membership. Be sure to ask at the front desk about our After-School programs and weekday classes at The Center!

And here’s your full weekend schedule.

Outdoor Adventure Bonus Hike!

Come and join our popular Outdoor Adventures After School class on a day trip adventure to the scenic Palisades Interstate Park! This is a one-time opportunity that you do NOT want to miss. Open to all 4th and 5th graders, this wonderful trip will include a full day of hiking over the George Washington Bridge and beautiful trails directly north of Manhattan, including the unique panoramic views from the majestic Palisades. Led by our fully-trained and experienced Outdoor Adventure Staff, students need only bring a packed lunch, a bottle of water, and heavy boots. This will be a blast for your child–and a beautiful memory they won’t soon forget!

On Saturday, January 24th, 2015, we will be leaving from The Downtown Community Center (120 Warren Street) at 7:30am and be back for pick up by 4:30pm.

Space is limited, so reserve your spot today! Email Susan or call her at 212.766.1104 x259.

More info here:

This Weekend at the Center

A warm thank you to everyone who braved the cold last weekend to join us for our newly-expanded weekend programming at The Center. Come join us this weekend for more fun activities for the whole family!

Stay warm out there, and hope to see you soon!

Spring 2015 Swim Lesson Registration is Now Open!Downtown Community Center swimming
We are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for Spring 2015 Swim Lessons at The Center! Be sure to sign up now to ensure a spot for your child. Our certified teachers come from a variety of backgrounds and have years of experience teaching swimming – each of them contributing to our program in their own special way. We follow a curriculum developed over Manhattan Youth’s 20+ years of successfully teaching children to swim in lower Manhattan, however we pride ourselves on having unique instructors, each with different personalities, teaching styles, and creative ideas. We understand that children learn in different ways and respond to different styles of instruction, and our diverse team of instructors allows us to find that perfect fit for each child. So this spring, come dive into a wonderful swim lesson experience at The Center!
Please click here for more details and instructions on how to register. You can contact our Aquatics Director Sarah at 212-766-1104 x240 or e-mail her for additional information.

Open Studio is now Arcade-Style with Fabulous Prizes!
Open Studio PrizesIn Open Studio, we open the doors of our Digital Media Lab for all Center Members to take advantage of our 18 brand new computers and to get creative. Students design video games, complete complex Photoshop projects, shoot and edit HD films, produce animated shorts, write and record songs, and remix tunes on our DJ turntable. It’s a fun and relaxed atmosphere in which you can work on personal projects, After-School projects, or learn and work on something entirely new.
We’ve got cameras, a recording studio, iMacs, and the entire Adobe Creative Suite-so what you create is only limited by your imagination. And each completed project earns students a set amount of points, which can be traded in, arcade-style, for fabulous prizes!
Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm. All members of the family are welcome–though children 3rd grade and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
Open Studio Minecraft Prizes


As always, here is the full weekend schedule.

Nutcracker in the News!

Nutcracker in the Trib

The Tribeca Trib featured Manhattan Youth’s Nutcracker dance performance on their front page of their January issue!

220 dance students from our elementary After-School program performed our take on the classic ballet piece. As the Trib says, “Other than the dance classic’s title, most everything about this fifth annual production last month, was delightfully reinvented.”

The Nutcracker is one of our favorite events every year.

Read The Tribeca Trib’s piece here.

And here is a short video of the excerpts performance also from the Trib produced by Carl and Thea Glassman.

And if you’d like to buy an HD video download of the full performance, you can grab that right here.