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It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call these borekas because I originally introduced them to my readers as one of our favorite savory Turkish bites. And it’s not every day you think of sweet borekas. Truth be told, I am a savory lover at heart. But this once city girl, who now lives within minutes of farmlandâ€”driving by horses, cows, dairy farms and wild apple treesâ€”counts her blessings and happily picks blueberries at a nearby farm.
Whether weâ€™ll call them borekas or not, these little pastries are fast, easy and perfectly sweet for the Jewish New Year. And as a perfect finger food for a Yom Kippur break fast, I made blueberry and apple borekas with a sweet tahini honey glaze.
Another usual savory bite, tahini is an ingredient I use for just about everything: dressings, dips and spreads, and naturally donâ€™t see it used as a sweet ingredient. Tahini is mixed with a bit of honey and warm water and with a bit of elbow grease, turns into a beautiful pour-able consistency.
Wishing you a wonderful and sweet New Year and an easy fast! L’shana Tovah!
Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini
1. First make the filling. In a bowl, add together the cubed apples, blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Toss everything together and allow to sit while you prepare the puff pastry.
2.Â Unfold puff pastry on a floured surface and roll out a bit so the pastry is a bit thinner.
3. Then cut pastry sheet into nine even squares (18 total for both sheets) and add about a tablespoon of filling to each square.
4. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and then folding the dough together making a little pouch. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges and it’s OK if you stretch the dough a bit, the fruit will shrink as it bakes.
5. Brush more egg wash on top of the folded pastry and sprinkle with more sugar. Use a knife to cut little skits on the top.
6. Place borekas on lined baking sheet and bake at 325Â° for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling begins to ooze out and the pastry is golden brown.
7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit while you make tahini glaze.
8. To make the tahini glaze, in a bowl add the tahini and honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Use a fork or whisk to whisk everything together until it is smooth and pour-able. As it sits, it will get firmer so you can add a bit more warm water and mix until desired consistency.
This version of vegetable hash can be served as a side dish or enjoyed as a full meal. The apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah represent a sweet new year whileÂ the flavors are French inspired with shallots and classic French herbs. For your seasoning, enjoy a taste of France with a classic herb mix such as herbes de Provence or use tarragon, which is often used in French cooking.
French Apple Root Vegetable Hash with Honey Drizzle
(serves 4 as a meal and 6 as a side dish)
1.Â Peel the potatoes and cut them into a small dice. Rinse the potatoes thoroughly and dry them on a clean kitchen towel.
2.Â Heat theÂ vegetable oil in a frying pan for a minute or two over medium high heat. Add in the potatoes and fry until golden brown. You will need to turn the potatoes with a spoon or spatula to cook on all sides.
3.Â While the potatoes are crisping, peel and dice the carrot and parsnip and chop the shallot finely. Once the potatoes are golden brown, remove them from the pan and set them aside on a plate. In the same pan, toss the shallots in the leftover oil and cook for a minute, then add the diced carrots and parsnips. Cook for two more minutes.
4.Â While the root vegetables cook, dice the red pepper. Peel and dice the apple. Note: I like to have the apple diced slightly larger than the root vegetables to highlight it. Toss the red pepper and apple in with the rest of the vegetables and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using dried herbs, sprinkle 1 tsp. of herbes de Provence in now. Add the potatoes back into the pan and stir it all together. Remove the hash to a serving dish. If you are using fresh herbs, mince them.
5.Â Top with a drizzle of honey and, if you are using fresh herbs, sprinkle them on top of the hash. You can use as much as a whole Tbsp. or less to taste. If you are serving this as a main course, I suggest adding some crumbled goat cheese or grated ComtĂ© cheese. For breakfast, you can top it with a fried egg.
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.
Challah for the Jewish New Year is specialâ€”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.
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.)
1.Â Coat a large bowl with cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.
2.Â 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.Â 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 2Â˝ cups of the flour and the salt, and combine well. Then add 2Â˝ more cups of flour and mix well. Add additional flour as needed to form a cohesive dough.
4.Â 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.Â 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 1Â˝ to 2 hours.
6.Â Uncover the dough and press down on the middle to deflate. Cover and let rest for a few minutes.
7.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.
Marcia 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.
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.