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When the Jewish New Year arrives, people often wish their family and friends a â€śsweet and fruitful New Year.â€ť Because the holiday occurs rightÂ atÂ 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 (â€śSepharadâ€ť means â€śSpainâ€ť in Hebrew), and especially Turkish Jews, have another custom: dulce de manzana.
Dulce de manzana meansÂ â€śsweet of the apple,â€ťÂ 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 andÂ the apples donâ€™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 wonâ€™tÂ end up with applesauce!
DULCE de MANZANA
1.Â Place the sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
2.Â 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.Â 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.
4.Â While mixture is cooking, toast the almonds in a 350F oven for 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside.
5.Â 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.
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 itâ€™s worth the time and money to buy the squash already peeled and cubed. You might have to cut some of the chunksÂ into smallerÂ piecesÂ if theyâ€™re too large, but otherwise this is a fast and easy dish to make. You donâ€™t even have to peel the apples!
Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
1.Â Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Â Cut onion in half and slice each piece crosswise into Â˝-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
3.Â 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.
4.Â 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.
5.Â Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and serve.