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Besides the occasional pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I didnâ€™t grow up eating a lot of pumpkin-flavored dishes. Instead, the women in my Japanese-American family made stewed kabocha (also called Japanese pumpkin) at this time of year. Whenever I see kabocha at the store, it takes me back to the delicious aroma of sweet kabocha stewed with soy sauce.
When I got to college and started cooking for myself, I tried my hand at the pumpkin soups, pies and baked goods Iâ€™d see in magazines at this time of year. Each time, I felt disappointed by the relatively mellow and mild flavor. Even the shade of orange was mellow and mild.
This year, I decided to make a kabocha challah for fall Shabbat dinners. The color is beautifully vibrant and the flavor has more depth and is more complex (savory and sweet at the same time!) than that of its sugar pumpkin cousin. Youâ€™ll have extra purĂ©ed kabocha left over that you can use to make this kabocha soup, which would be perfect on a Thanksgiving table.
Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Challah
Makes: 2 large challahs
*can be made without Kitchen Aid mixer
1. Take 9 eggs out of the refrigerator.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour a half cup of the warm water.
4. Using a candy thermometer, check to make sure it is about 110Â°F. Pour in the two packets of dry yeast and one Tbsp. of sugar (from the 1/3 cup) into the bowl. Stir gently to dissolve everything into the water. Set the bowl aside for 15 minutes.
5. Your yeast mixture should look foamy at the end of the 15 minutes. If it does not, you need to get new yeast and start over or your challah will not rise. Better to find out now, rather than later!
6. Now that your yeast is activated, add the remaining lukewarm water to the bowl, then the remainder of the sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, salt and spices. Whisk on medium speed.
7. Once everything is evenly incorporated, add your kabocha purĂ©e and keep whisking.
8. Once the mixture is smooth, thick and bright orange, change out your whisk for a dough hook.
9. Add each cup of flour slowly on low speed. With a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides down with each addition. When youâ€™re on the seventh or eighth cup, the dough will become too thick for your mixer. At this point, you can start to knead with your hands. When youâ€™re done, the dough should be smooth and stretchy but not super sticky. If you need to, add a bit more flour until you reach this consistency.
10. Oil the entire inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Place dough in this bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. I like to put my dough in my oven (but not turn it on).
11. After one hour, punch the dough back down to remove the air and let it rise again for another hour.
12. Once itâ€™s risen again for a second hour, punch the dough down again and knead it into a smooth ball on a floured countertop. Cut the ball in half with a pastry scraper.
13. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg yolks and water in a small bowl with a small whisk.
14. Now itâ€™s time for braiding! There are many different ways to braid challah, and I prefer the look of the four-strand braid because itâ€™s simple but still looks impressive! I like to use Tori Aveyâ€™s Four-Strand Braided Challah tutorial.
15. Preheat your oven to 375Â°F. Using a pastry brush, generously apply egg wash to each of your challahs. Generously sprinkle them with everything bagel mix, and black and white sesame seeds in sections (see photo). Alternatively, you can also just season them generously with everything bagel mix and let them rise for 30 more minutes.
16.Â Bake challah for 40 minutes, but set your timer for 30 minutes. At this point, check on your challah to see if it needs to be rotated. If itâ€™s browning quite quickly, you may need to cover it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
A babka is like challah dressed up for a black-tie event. Â It is rich and glamorous with swirled layers of fillingÂ and aÂ syrup-enhanced shine. This Jewish dessert is so decadent that it often only comes out for special occasions.Â Babka is commonly made with chocolate, cinnamon, fruit or nuts and sometimes a sweet cheese. This babka is filled with theÂ flavors and gooey-ness of pecan pie just in time to start dreaming about your Thanksgiving spread. The doughÂ itselfÂ infuses this recipe with theÂ flavors of early Native American cooking from cornmeal and a molasses and maple syrup glaze.
In Britain, pudding is the word for dessert. AÂ quick and easy dessert that theÂ English brought with them to America was a hasty pudding, which is a sweetened porridge cooked downÂ and thickened until it can hold its shape. Once in America, the Native Americans taught the English how to plant local crops and the hasty pudding became Indian Pudding sweetened with molasses and maple syrup and thickened with a coarsely ground flint corn instead of flour. Indian pudding is fairly well known in New England whereas the sweet Southern pecan pie is on just about every Thanksgiving table near and far. Indian pudding is our little New England secret. This culinary mash up takes three cultural staples that are all delicious in their own right and creates a delicate, sweet babka that can be enjoyed with ice cream for dessert or with a cup of coffee for breakfast.
When I first decided to try a babka with a nod to the heritage of this country and the annualÂ Thanksgiving feast, I was a little nervous that it would be a complicated breadÂ to make. Â It turns out that the actual forming of the babka is quite simple. I also found a few kitchen hacks that make it even easier. This bread smells exactly likeÂ pecan pie. As my mom likes to say, “This babka is very more-ish.” (Which means you always need just one more piece.)
Indian Pudding Babka with a Pecan Pie Swirl
If you have a scale, weight measurements are great for any baking but I have included cups as well. Using a stand mixer makes this much easier. My mixer is very old and has a very sturdy whisk attachment. I would recommend a dough hook or paddle if you are using a modern mixer.
Pecan Pie FillingÂ Ingredients:
Indian Pudding SyrupÂ Ingredients:
How to make the dough
1.Â In a stand mixer bowl add all purpose flour, finely ground cornmeal, granulated sugar, sea salt, and packet of instant yeast. Using a whisk, mix all the ingredients together. Then, put on the dough hookÂ or paddle attachment to continue making the dough.
2.Â Add in the eggs and water. Let the mixture come together on low, slowly. The water should bring the dough together. If the dough is not coming together at all, add 1 Tbsp. of water at a time until the dough starts to form. With the mixer back on low, add inÂ the butter and mix until you have a uniform dough.
3.Â Knead with the dough hook or paddle for 10 minutes. Make sure your paddle can handle the weight of the dough. If not, take the bowl off the mixer and knead by hand. The dough will be quite heavy and sticky. Put the dough into a greased bowl and turn it over once. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
How to make the pecan pie filling
1. In a large dry pan, over medium-low heat, toast the pecans. They should be in a single layer and stirred frequently so they do not burn.
2.Â Put the toasted pecans on a cutting board and chop them finely. You should have about 1-1 1/2 cups of finely chopped pecans.
3.Â In a small saucepan addÂ the maple syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar, and molasses. Cook over medium heat until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from heat andÂ stirÂ in butter and vanilla. Pour entire mixture into a bowl to cool.
4. Separate the eggs into two bowls. The yolks should go in a small bowl and the whites in a large bowl.
5. Once the sugar mixture has cooled to room temperature or slightly warmer, add in the two egg yolks, whisking quickly. Then, pour in the finely chopped pecans. Stir the mixture together and refrigerate to chill. If you areÂ on day one, then this mixture can chill overnight until you are ready to make the babka on day two.
6. If you are on day two and the dough has risen, you can beat the two egg whites until stiff, but not dry.
7. Fold the egg whites into the chilled nut and sugar mixture.
How to make the babka:
1.Â GreaseÂ two 9″ x 4″ loaf pans with vegetable oil spray or with some oil on a paper towel. Cut parchment so that one piece will cover the bottom and two sides lengthwise. Put a half sheet pan or a toaster oven pan into your freezer.
2.Â On day two, take your babka dough out of the fridge and cut it in two. Place one of the halves back into the fridge until ready to use.
3.Â I like to splash a little water on my counter and then lay down some parchment paper on top so it sticks to the counter. Then, sprinkle the parchment with 1/4 cup of finely ground cornmeal.Â The cornmeal on top of the parchment makes the dough easy to roll out and adds a little texture and flavor to the layers of the bread. Roll the dough 12 inches wide and then as long as you can while keeping the dough not too much thinner than aÂ 1/4 inch. Get a small dish of water and a brush.
4.Â If you have not done so yet, beat and fold the two egg whites into the pecan pieÂ mixture. Spread half of the mixture on the dough leaving a 1/2 -inch seam on three sides ofÂ the dough and a 2-inch seam at the far end. You want a thin layer of the pecan pieÂ mixture.
5.Â You will now make a 12-inch roll with the dough. Carefully roll the dough from the short end (12 inches wide) with a 1/2-inch seam toward the 2-inch seam. You can also use the parchment to help you with this. Brush water along the seam and pinch the dough together at the seam. It need not seal completely.
6.Â Freeze the rolled dough for 20-30 minutes. Repeat with the other 1/2 of the babka dough. While the dough is freezing, clean up your work surface, find a pair of kitchen scissors and lay down a new sheet of parchment.
7. Take the babka dough out of the fridge one at a time. Cut the babka dough in half horizontally, carefully turning up the cut sides so that the pecan pie mixture stays inside.Then, overlap both halves, with the cut side always facing up and repeat the overlap at least three or four times. You can gently stretch the dough as you go.
8. Place the dough into the loaf pan, making an ‘S’ shape to fit it all in. If the dough is shorter and doesn’t quite make an ‘S’ that is fine. Repeat with the other part of the dough. Cover both loaf pans with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
9. Preheat your oven to 375â„‰. Bake for 30-40 minutes, check after 30 minutes to see if the babka is golden brown. A skewer in the babka should come out clean and should not have any resistance.
10. While the babka is baking, make the Indian Pudding Syrup. Place the water, maple syrup, brown sugar and molasses into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
When the babka comes out of the oven, brush each loaf with the syrup. The babka can handle a lot of syrup so continue brushing several layers until glossy. Allow the babka to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Your Indian Pudding Babka with Pecan Pie Swirl can be served with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. It can also be served for breakfast and is delicious with a cup of coffee.Â The hard part is waiting for theÂ babka to cool before cutting into it!
Bread puddingâ€”essentially made from stale bread and custardâ€”originated in England as a poor familyâ€™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 donâ€™t have stale bread for this, save your bread ends instead, using a variety of different breads (other than sandwich bread).
Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding
1.Â 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 sautĂ© 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.Â 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 doesnâ€™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 ÂĽ-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.
6.Â 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.
7.Â 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 ofÂ salt and pepper. Pour eggs and chicken stock over the bread-pudding mix. Add the remaining thyme and sage, plus the dried cranberries.Â 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.Â 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.
Thanksgiving is a North American tradition that falls just at the end of the great harvest before the soil freezes and goes dormant for the winter. It is a meal that tells tales of the Native Americans who owned the soil and the Puritan immigrants who were looking for new soil from which to harvest meals and on which to live more freely. WhileÂ each family has their own must haves on the table and Thanksgiving traditions (Football or Charlie Brown on TV), one thing that holds true for just about every family is that there will be leftovers.
If you look for some history on the knish, most routes point to Brooklyn, NY, but their heritage goes all the back to “the old country” in Poland. Traditionally a knish is filled with potatoes mashed with onions and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). There are also kasha knishes (buckwheat), and the sweet cheese knish. My knish takes your Thanksgiving leftovers and puts them in a wonderful little package that can be enjoyed right away or frozen to nosh (snack) on later when you’re craving a little taste of Thanksgiving.
Note: This recipe uses a dairy free stuffing in order to keep the recipe Kosher. The gravy is also dairy free and is thickened with the schmaltz from the turkey gravy: When you separate the fat from the gravy, chill it and use it to make your flour slurry toÂ thicken the gravy.Â
Sage Warm Water Knish Dough Ingredients
1. Â Begin by making the fried sage leaves. You will need to make sure your leaves are completely dry before starting. Have a plate with a paper towel on it nearby and a slotted spoon. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/4 cup of canola oil over medium heat in a small pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the oil is hot (if you splash a drop of water on it, it dances about and sizzles), with the lid in one hand, carefully toss in 1/4 of your sage leaves andÂ immediately place the lid on top of the pot. The leaves will sizzle furiously. Once the sizzling stops, gently give the leaves one last stir and then carefully remove them and place them on the paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the leaves in 3 more batches.
2. Â Set the prettiest leaves aside as a garnish. The rest you will break into your dough.
3. Â Set the sage oil aside and let it cool.
4. Â In a food processor, with the steel knife, process the eggs, the 1/2 cup of cooled sage oil, and warm water for 5 seconds or until mixed.
5. Â Add to the egg mixture: salt, baking powder and flour. Process with 2-3 on/off pulses. Then crumble in the sage leaves. Process everything until just blended through.
6. Â Add a small handful of flour to a bowl just to coat. Put the sticky knish dough into the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes while you prep your fillings.
7. Â Preheat oven to 350Â° F. Grease a baking sheet with canola oil or some sort of oil spray.
8. Â Add 1/2 cup of stock and 2 tsp of pepper to your stuffing and mash it all together with a fork so you have a very soft mashed stuffing. If your stuffing is very dry you can add a little more. If you have a very soft stuffing you may need a little less.
9. Â Cube your turkey. You can do a mix of dark and light meat.
10. Â Add the zest of one lemon to your cranberry sauce.
1. Â Now it is time to assemble. Divide your dough into four sections. Each section will be divided into six balls of dough for a total of 24. Working with one section at a time, make six balls of dough. On a floured counter or cutting board, roll out one dough ball at a time as thinly as possible. The dough will almost be see-through. Make sure you have no holes. If you have a hole, ball it up and start again.
2. Â Take your rectangle of dough and add in a tablespoon or so each of turkey and stuffing. Add in a few slices of vegetables and a 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Adjust amount of filling to fit inside the dough. After the first one, you will have a good sense of how much is too much.
3. Â Carefully stretch the dough over the top of the stuffing pulling one side at a time over and layering them on top of one another. Then, flip the knish over so the seam is on the bottom and place it on the greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. I like to bake 6 at a time, but you can do more if you like.
4. Â Blend your egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the knishes with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake the knishes for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
To serve, garnish with a fried sage leaf, warm up some gravy and serve with a side of cranberry sauce. Enjoy your gourmet leftovers!
Sukkot is synonymous with fall fruits and vegetables which are often used to decorate the sukkah. No specific foods are required but using the abundance of our local harvest replicates the Israelites bringingÂ some of the bounty of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Making the long trek to the city, the travelers dwelled in temporary huts, or sukkahs, at the base of the Jerusalem hills.
It is customary to sleep and eat in the sukkah for eight days. In many climates this is not advisable, but eating in the temporary hut that has a lattice roof through which to view the stars was mandated in the Talmud on this holiday. Mandate aside, it is customary to invite friends and family to partake of a meal in your own sukkah (or to visit friends who have built one).
Dishes that are easily transported from your kitchen to the table outside are preferred and, of course, includingÂ nature’s fall produce is a must. Here is a side dish that can be made dairy with butter or parve (no milk or meat products) if anyone in your sukkah keeps kosher. It is Caribbean in origin, an area of the world where many Jews settled 400 years ago. You can, of course, bake your own sweet potatoes and small pie pumpkin to mash for this sweet potato pumpkin cazuela, but to save time and even allow your young children to help you make this recipe I call for canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes in light or no syrup.
One word of warning: This dish is so very delicious that I would double or triple the ingredients if you are making it for more than four people. And don’t forget Thanksgiving. But, please, hold the marshmallowsâ€”this is not a dessert, but could be served with any number of other dishes.
Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cazuela
1. Â Place the butter or coconut oil in a 2-quart Pyrex bowl and microwave for 45 seconds.
2. Â Whisk the sugars, flour and salt into the butter to combine.
3. Â Whisk the coconut milk into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Add the eggs and combine.
4. Â Add the pumpkin puree and the mashed yams and whisk until a smooth batter is formed.
5. Â Combine the water with the spices in a small glass cup and microwave for 3 Â˝ minutes. Let the spices steep for 5 minutes. Strain the spiced water through a fine mesh strainer into the pumpkin-potato mixture and stir to incorporate.
7. Â Butter a 2-quart casserole and pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
8. Â Bake covered in a pre-heated 350Â°F oven for 1 hour. Serve hot out of the oven or reheated warm or hot.
Sugar pie pumpkins are about 1 Â˝ pounds and very rounded. Always use them when a recipe calls for cooked pumpkin. Larger pumpkins are more watery.
Coconut milk is not milk or dairy. It is the liquid formed from ground, fresh, hydrated coconut.