Ponchiki: Polish Cheese Doughnut Holes

  

PonchikiThere are two stories associated with Hanukkah: One tells how the vial of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted for eight, and the other is the story of Judith and how she saved her town from annihilation at the hands of General Holefernes by getting him drunk on salty cheese and wine until he passed out and was killed. The latter story is not often told in Hebrew school (for good reason!), but the holiday’s culinary tradition of eating foods prepared with cheese is widespread throughout Mediterranean Jewish communities.

Doughnuts, or sufganiot as they are called in Israel, are a Sephardi treat. Ponchiki, however, are traditionally made in Poland and Eastern Europe, the area where Ashkenazi Jews came from. So this recipe not only combines two culinary traditions and two cultural areas of Judaism, it also fulfills the holiday traditions of consuming fried foods and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 7.5-ounce packages Friendship Dairies Farmer Cheese or 2 cups homemade farmer’s cheese (see recipe below)
  • 3-4 cups corn or vegetable oil for frying

 

Directions:

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a one-quart bowl. Set aside.

2.  Whisk the egg in a two-quart bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to whisk until foamy and well combined.

ponchiki: whisk

add the cheese3.  Add the cheese and whisk vigorously to break it down into small particles, thoroughly combining it with the egg mixture.

4.  Add the flour mixture and stir with the whisk or a spatula until no particles of flour are visible.

5.  Heat the oil in a small, deep fryer or in a two-quart saucepan to a temperature of 375ºF. If necessary, add enough oil to come to a depth of about two inches. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you’ll know the oil is ready when a little bit of dough rolls in the oil and begins to brown.

 

 

Fry your doughnuts6. Using a small spring ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon and rubber spatula, scoop up some dough and drop it into the hot oil. Don’t fry more than six balls at a time so the oil temperature remains constant. Turn doughnut holes over, if necessary, to brown on all sides. Doughnuts will be done after about three minutes. If holes are browning too fast, lower the heat slightly.

7.  Crumple paper towels on a plate to drain the holes of excess oil. While still warm, toss them in confectioner’s sugar or in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

They are best eaten warm but will stay crisp for a few hours.

 

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Makes about two to three cups.

Ingredients:

  • ½ gallon whole or 2 percent milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cheesecloth

 

Directions:

1.  Bring milk and buttermilk to a simmer. Add the salt and continue to cook until the ingredients separate into curds and whey.

2.  Scoop up the cheese with a skimmer or small strainer and place in a large double-mesh strainer or colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. Let the cheese sit so any excess moisture can drip out, then bring the edges of the cloth together and twist them to force out any leftover moisture.

3.  Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use in a recipe, or eat with jam on toast.

For more Hanukkah recipes, click here

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

  

Ruegelach display

As Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, it’s a fine time to share my beloved recipe for rugelach. Before I became Jewish, I had always loved the Christmas cookie baking traditions—from the aromas that filled the house to all the flavors and textures of the different cookies. And all the sampling, of course. Celebrating my first Hanukkah made me yearn for a sweet little bite to bake for the holiday. Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies fell way short, as did a few other strategies. Then I came upon rugelach (the name for which likely comes from the Yiddish word for “royal”). These American-Jewish delicacies that are part cookie and part pastry captured my baking heart, and I’ve made this recipe every year since. It beautifully combines a delicate texture with the comforting flavors of cinnamon, pecans and a kiss of apricot. Rugelach would go well on any cookie tray and a tin full of these makes a wonderful gift.

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Reprinted with permission from “Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life” by Marcia Friedman

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apricot preserves at room temperature
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk

 

Topping:

  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Cream the cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and light. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Add a little additional flour if needed to make it cohesive.

2. Divide it into four equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, gently press into a disk shape, and then enclose in the plastic. Repeat with the other three balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes.

3. Make the filling by combining 6 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, ¾ tsp. cinnamon and the pecans. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Rugelach prep

4. Remove one disk from the refrigerator; unwrap and place dough on a floured surface. Gently roll into an approximate 9-inch circle. Spread a generous ½ Tbsp. of the apricot preserves over the dough to about ¼ inch from the edge. Sprinkle evenly with a scant ½ cup of brown-sugar filling and gently press. Cut the circle into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide edge, roll up each triangle. Place the formed pastries seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or freeze for about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Make the topping by combining the 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar and the ½ tsp. cinnamon.

7. Brush each pastry with the egg and milk mixture, and sprinkle lightly with sugar-cinnamon topping. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until well browned. Remove from oven, and let rest on the cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring rugelach to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Rugelach bake

Yield: 48 rugelach

Note: Assembled pastries can be frozen and baked at a later time. Defrost partially before placing in oven, and allow extra time for baking.

Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

  

thanksgivingbreadpud-12

Bread pudding—essentially made from stale bread and custard—originated in England as a poor family’s dessert. Every culture handles its leftovers differently; in Jewish cooking, the most common pudding recipes include kugel and matzo brei. This particular savory version uses eggs and chicken stock for the custard instead of milk, and the bread is seasoned with all the flavors of Thanksgiving. If you don’t have stale bread for this, save your bread ends instead, using a variety of different breads (other than sandwich bread).

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Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1-lb. loaf French or Italian bread
  • 4 onions
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper

 

Optional topping:

  • 1 cup potato chips
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

 

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube bread into 1-inch pieces. Bake the bread cubes on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cubes in the oven as it cools.

2. Chop onions and sauté over medium heat with olive oil. Chop the celery into a small dice and toss it in with the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery softens slightly.

3. Add 1 Tbsp. sage into the onion mixture. Over the onion mixture, strip the leaves off of two sprigs of thyme by running your fingers, pinched, along the stem (try the opposite direction if that doesn’t work well). Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and stir until mixed. Take the onion mixture out of the pan and put 1/4 cup in a medium-sized bowl to cool. Put the rest aside in another bowl to cool.

4. Take the bread cubes out of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees again. Toss the bread cubes in with the larger portion of the onion mixture and set aside.

5. Once cool, add the ground turkey into the ¼-cup onion mixture. Separate two eggs, keeping the whites. Add the two egg yolks to the ground turkey. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. sage. Add fresh cranberries and mix together until uniform.

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6. In the same pan you used for the onions (no need to rinse it!) add vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil. Form small, burger-sized patties with the turkey mixture and fry them over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes a side. They should be browned on the outside and opaque in the middle. Put the patties aside on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to touch, break them into large pieces.

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7. Toss the patty pieces with the bread cubes and onion mixture. Any juices on the plate can be added to the mixture as well.

8. Add four additional eggs to the two egg whites. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour eggs and chicken stock over the bread-pudding mix. Add the remaining thyme and sage, plus the dried cranberries. The best way to mix it all is with your hands. If the mixture is still fairly dry, add another 1/2 cup of stock.

9. Put 1 tsp. vegetable oil in a 9×13 glass baking dish and grease the dish with a paper towel. Gently lay the mixture into the dish. Pat down lightly. If you have extra mixture, you can bake it separately in a small dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes, uncovered. After 30 minutes, sprinkle the potato-chip mixture on top and continue baking. Serve with roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Serve with some roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese

  

bruschetta_mac_and_cheese_holding_650There’s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)—macaroni and cheese. To give you a clue as to just how much I love mac and cheese, for my 30th birthday my husband took me out to a well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI, where I was in graduate school at the time, and ordered a flight of four different kinds of made-to-order mac and cheese. Six years later, I still remember it as one of my most favorite meals.

So when it comes to hosting a vegetarian friend for a Shabbat meal, I see it as an opportunity to embrace my mac and cheese side. I like to get creative and go bananas with mac and cheese. For Sukkot one year, I had some friends over for a mac and cheese bar that included every kind of vegetarian-friendly topping you can think of, and about four different kinds of hot sauces. It was awesome! But when I want to bring out a showstopper, the recipe below is the one I go for. The balsamic vinegar pairs perfectly with the cheeses that have been kissed with a hint of mustard. Plus you can never go wrong with a beautiful, colorful topping like tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. And if your kids don’t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the “untouched” pasta on the side. Everyone wins!

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

Mac and Cheese

  • 13 oz. rotini pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Bruschetta Topping

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Roughly 8 whole basil leaves, finely chopped (or chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Bruschetta Topping

1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil and salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat, and by the handful stir in the cheeses, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard and salt. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

4. Once complete, either spoon all of your mac and cheese into a serving dish and serve with artfully placed bruschetta topping (this is what I recommend for the wow factor!) or spoon into individual bowls and add toppings.

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Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl

  

Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl

My first introduction to Shakshuka was several years ago when my local and new favorite café, Sofra, a Turkish coffee shop started serving it. If you want to make or try their traditional version, you can find their recipe here. This Shakshuka takes this popular mishmash of an Israeli breakfast and throws in some flavors of the American South.  If you have time, I recommend making it with collard greens. However, this version has spinach as the greens to save on time. The addition of yams to the tomato sauce gives it a slight Southern sweetness and richness that is perfect for the colder fall and winter mornings. The remoulade drizzle also adds a taste of the South and you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like.

Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl
(Serves 4 can be doubled or halved. )

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, divided
  • 1 green pepper, divided
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Tabasco Sauce, divided – quantity to taste
  • 2 tsp. of pickle juice
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 small yams
  • 3 Tbsp. of grape seed or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. of Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pinch of smoked salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. of your favorite spice (thyme, Creole spice mix, old bay seasoning or oregano)
  • 8-12 cups of fresh spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 4 cups of tomato purée, or diced tomatoes (For a smoother sauce, use the purée.)
  • 4 slices of fresh tomato
  • 1 can of ready to bake biscuits or try this recipe to make your own.
  • 4 eggs

 

Buttermilk biscuits from scratch only take minutes to prepare.

Buttermilk biscuits from scratch only take minutes to prepare.

Directions:

1. Bake your biscuits as directed on the package or make some quick and easy Southern biscuits from scratch.

2. The Southern drizzle is a remoulade sauce made with sour cream and mayonnaise. In a blender, add 1/4 of a small yellow onion roughly chopped, 1/8 of your green pepper, 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup, 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard, 1 clove of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, 2 tsp. of pickle juice and a 1/2 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream. Blend until smooth and put in the refrigerator to chill.tiny yam croutons

3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, cut a yam in half and slice four thin slices off the middle of the yam, about 1/8 inch thick, and pat them dry. Heat 3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a small sauté or saucepan. Thinly slice and cube your four yam slices to make mini croutons. Once the oil is hot enough that it starts to ripple, toss in the cubed yams and cook until golden over medium high heat. Remove the crispy yams and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour out half the oil from the pan. Dice and sauté the rest of the onion and green pepper over medium low heat just until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Remove the onions and green peppers with a slotted spoon and place into an oven safe pan or dish. You can use a small cast iron pan or a baking dish.

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4. Without cleaning the pan, toss in your 8-12 cups of washed and trimmed spinach and cook until wilted. Remove and sprinkle with smoked salt. You can use regular salt here if you like, but the smokey flavor adds a little extra Southern flare. If you have time to prepare collard greens instead of spinach, just replace the sour cream above with all mayonnaise.

5. Grate the rest of your yams and add them to the pan. Pour in the 4 cups of tomato purée. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens a little. Once the grated yams are very soft, pour the mixture over your onions and peppers.

6. Crack all four eggs into your dish, or spoon the tomato and vegetable mixture into individual dishes and crack one egg in each dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the egg is just set. Ideally, you want the yolk runny.

7. Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle each slice of fresh tomato lightly with salt and pepper. Split your biscuits and slide a slice of tomato in the middle of each one. Add the spinach to the dish next to your eggs and toss the yam croutons over the dish. Drizzle the Southern sauce over the eggs and spinach, add a few extra dashes of Tabasco and serve.

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Potato and Pumpkin Kugel

  

Potato and pumpkin Kugel

Potato kugel is always a hit at holiday meals. Traditionalists enjoy simple potato kugel like their grandmothers used to make, but even so there are debates about whether the kugel should be crunchy and light or soft and compressed. This particular version has a pumpkin custard-like topping and is a mix of sweet and savory. You end up with a little crunch around the edges and a soft filling in the middle. It also lends itself to experimentation—add cumin or za’atar for Middle Eastern flavors, or turmeric or garam masala for an Indian-inspired version.

Potato and Pumpkin Kugel

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 large baking potatoes (Russet, Idaho)
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp of potato or corn starch
  • 1 tsp. of Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 15-oz. can of pumpkin purée
  • 12-fl. oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. caster/granulated sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. of a spice of your choice, such as garam masala, turmeric, cumin, ginger or za’atar (optional)
  • Sour cream for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel onion and potatoes and coarsely grate with a box grater over a clean kitchen towel. (Here, I used 3 small potatoes as one large potato.)

Grate potatoes and onion for this potato kugel topped with pumpkin flan.

3. Over the sink or a bowl, squeeze the towel of grated mixture as hard as you can to extract as much liquid as possible.

Potato kugel prep

4. Add 2 ½ Tbsp. oil to a deep pie plate. Put the plate in the oven to heat.

5. Add onion and potato mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle with starch, salt and ½ tsp. pepper.

6. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack one egg into it. Beat the egg with a fork and mix well.SAMSUNG CSC

7. Remove the pie plate from the oven, scooping out ½ Tbsp. hot oil. Set aside.

8. With a fork, add the potato mixture to the pie plate. Build up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust. (If you like lots of crunchy potato, make your sides wide.) Drizzle remaining hot oil on top.

Kugel base

9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

10. Mix pumpkin purée with evaporated milk. Add remaining eggs, cinnamon and sugar.

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11. With a measuring cup or ladle, pour pumpkin mixture into potato pie until it reaches the top of the potato edges. (Any extra mixture can be used to make sweet pumpkin flan!)

pumpkin layer

12. Add remaining ½ tsp. pepper and additional spice, if using, to pumpkin mixture, stirring lightly with a fork to prevent overflow.

13. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If the edges begin to get too dark, cover with foil; the moisture from the pumpkin should help it stay crisp.

14. To make sweet pumpkin flan, add 3 Tbsp. sugar to leftover pumpkin mixture. Pour into oven-safe ramekins and bake for 30 minutes.

15. After removing kugel from oven, let cool slightly and serve with sour cream.

potato and pumpkin kugel

Dulce de Manzana

  

dulce_apple_peeling_650_croppedWhen the Jewish New Year arrives, people often wish their family and friends a “sweet and fruitful New Year.” Because the holiday occurs right at the beginning of apple season, apples are the fruit of choice. People with ancestry from Eastern Europe and Russia ceremoniously dip apple wedges in honey to symbolize this good wish. Sephardic Jews, or Jews who can trace their ancestry back to Spain (“Sepharad” means “Spain” in Hebrew), and especially Turkish Jews, have another custom: dulce de manzana.

dulce_ingredients_650Dulce de manzana means “sweet of the apple,” and this delicious rose-scented apple preserve is spread on pieces of challah at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah meal. It is so delicious that any leftovers stored in the refrigerator can be used for weeks as a spread on toast and sandwiches, or even as a base for small custard tarts. If you have an apple peeler (as shown in the photo) your children can help peel the apples while developing their gross motor skills. I also like to use the coarse blade on my food processor. The grating is fast and the apples don’t have time to discolor (although the little bit of lemon juice will rectify that). My last suggestion is to use firm apples as suggested in the recipe. That way the apple strands keep their shape and you won’t end up with applesauce!

DULCE de MANZANA

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 pounds apples (Granny Smith, Gala or Red Delicious)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. rosewater or 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

 

Directions:

1. Place the sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

2. While the mixture is heating, peel the apples and grate them by hand with a coarse grater or use a coarse grating disc on your processor. Immediately add the apples to the hot sugar syrup.

3. Reduce the temperature to medium and allow to cook for 30 -45 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is quite thick. (Note: the amount of time depends on the variety of apple and its juice content.) Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent sticking.

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4. While mixture is cooking, toast the almonds in a 350F oven for 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside.

5. When mixture is thickened (it will get thicker when it cools) add the rosewater or the vanilla and place in an open container until cool. The toasted almonds may be added to the mixture or sprinkled on top as a garnish. Refrigerate until serving.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini

  

title fig 650_horizontalI absolutely love Rosh Hashanah and all things High Holiday season. I love fall weather, and I love the changing leaves and a bit of crisp in the air (though having lived in Miami and then Los Angeles for the last five years, I do miss the actual crisp in the air). Rosh Hashanah has been my favorite holiday ever since I was a little kid growing up in Atlanta. But it wasn’t until I learned how to really cook that Rosh Hashanah cemented itself in my heart as a culinary holiday. As I learn more and more about the holidays, I gain a better understanding of just how connected Jewish holidays are to the earth, the season and the harvest for that season. The recipe in this post is a testament to my commitment to honor the fruits and vegetables of the season. Roasted cauliflower and sweet potato is one of my go-to recipes for a quick, healthy and flavorful side dish on any Shabbat dinner table. But I wanted to jazz things up a bit, so I added some roasted garlic and perfectly ripe figs to balance the saltiness of the tahini. Whether you’re hosting a bunch of family this holiday season or feasting alone, do yourself a favor and try this dish. It’s great as a hot side or as a topping on a salad the next day. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • 4 Tbsp. plus ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp. hot water
  • 5-6 figs, cut in half length-wise
  • Fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, optional

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.fig_roasted

2. Spread the cauliflower florets and sweet potato in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric. Using a spatula, mix the cauliflower and sweet potato to spread the oil and spices around.

3. Place garlic cloves and remaining olive oil on a small piece of aluminum foil. Wrap garlic and oil in the foil so no oil can escape. Place foil in the corner of the baking sheet holding the veggies.

4. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake roughly 40 minutes, or until cauliflower and sweet potato are crispy on the edges.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the tahini by adding the tahini paste, lemon, kosher salt and garlic
powder to a deep bowl. Mix until combined. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring in between until the desired consistency is met. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I like mine pretty runny, so I may add another tablespoon or more of hot water.

6. Once vegetables are done, let cool for 5 minutes (make sure to open the foil of garlic and let it cool as well). Place all veggies and sliced figs on a serving dish and drizzle with tahini. Serve with an additional topping of cilantro or parsley, if desired.

 

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Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

  

Challah for the Jewish New Year is special—round to celebrate the circle of life and sweet (typically with raisins) in the hope of a sweet year. For the occasion, I make what I call my cinnamon roll challah, with rum-soaked raisins (an homage to Italian desserts featuring rum) and a pretty swirl of brown sugar and cinnamon inside.

cinnamon raisin challah whole

Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

Recipe reprinted with permission from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life

Yield: Two large loaves. (Dairy with butter or Pareve with margarine or oil.)

Ingredients:

Dough

  • Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil for coating the bowl and plastic wrap
  • ½ cup rum
  • ½ cup (generous) dark raisins
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 1 cup very warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (with one yolk reserved for topping), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (or margarine or oil), softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5½ to 6½ cups bread flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1½ tsp. salt

 

Filling

  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

 

Egg Wash

  • Reserved egg yolk from dough recipe
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

 

Directions:

1. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.

2. Heat rum in the microwave or on stovetop until hot. Pour over raisins to submerge them completely. Let stand about 10 minutes. Drain and discard the rum and pat the raisins dry. Set aside.

3. Dissolve the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl, about five minutes. Mix in the sugar, three whole eggs and the one egg white, butter and vanilla. Stir in 2½ cups of the flour and the salt, and combine well. Then add 2½ more cups of flour and mix well. Add additional flour as needed to form a cohesive dough.

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Press the dough into a large thick disk, and insert a handful of the raisins, spaced apart. Fold the dough over the raisins and flatten again; continue inserting raisins this way until all are incorporated and well distributed.

5. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, then lift out, turn over, and place it (oiled side up) back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours.

6. Uncover the dough and press down on the middle to deflate. Cover and let rest for a few minutes.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Prepare the filling by stirring together the brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla extract and the melted butter or margarine.

8. Divide the dough in half. Return one half to the bowl and cover. Place the other half on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large rectangle, about 20 inches long by 9 to 10 inches wide. Brush a thin layer of the butter over the dough. Then sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture.

9. Starting at one long edge of the dough, roll it (jelly-roll style) gently but firmly to the other edge. Press the seam and ends to seal. Gently pull and roll this log until it is about 24 inches long, keeping the original thickness on one end and gradually narrowing the other end. Twine the narrow end around the larger end to make a large pinwheel. Press the loose end to seal. Gently press down on the top of the entire loaf to level it.

10. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the reserved egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water to combine. Brush on shaped loaves. Gently cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes, until nearly doubled. Halfway through the rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

11. Bake for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 15 to 18 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped (the interior should be between 185 and 190 degrees). Some of the sugar mixture might seep out and create a sweet undercrust, which I consider ideal. Serve the same day or freeze.

cinnamon raisin challah sliced

 

marcia_friedman_smallMarcia Friedman is the author of Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life. She continues to write about her journey and the intersection of Jewish and Italian food at meatballsandmatzahballs.com.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

  

Roasted_Vegetables-FPO_650

Apples, the symbolic fruit for the Jewish New Year, can find their way onto your holiday menu in many ways. This recipe may not have its origins in Europe or the Middle East, but it plays on the tradition of elevating even the simplest of ingredients into a festive dish.

I serve this as a side for brisket or chicken, but you can also combine it with quinoa or barley as a more substantial side dish or vegetarian main course. Although you can buy a whole butternut squash and peel and cube it yourself, I find it’s worth the time and money to buy the squash already peeled and cubed. You might have to cut some of the chunks into smaller pieces if they’re too large, but otherwise this is a fast and easy dish to make. You don’t even have to peel the apples!IMG_2987_650

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp or Jonagold)
  • 20 oz. cubed butternut squash (about 4-5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)

 

Directions:sliced_onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut onion in half and slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Using an apple slicer, cut apple into eighths and then cut each wedge into three or four chunks. Add to the onions, along with the squash cubes.

diced_apples_butternut_squash

4. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. If onions are not yet golden and squash is still firm, gently turn the mixture and return to the oven for another 6 minutes, or until done.

toss_apples_squash

5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and serve.

sprinkle_apples_squash_serve