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Cooking Through the Jewish Year
Instructor: Sheilah Kaufman
Photography: Except where noted, preparation and photographs by eGCI Team.
Table of Contents:
<a href="#A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JEWS AND THEIR WANDERINGS">A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JEWS AND THEIR WANDERINGS</a>
<a href="#DIETARY LAWS (KASHRUT)">DIETARY LAWS (KASHRUT)</a>
<a href="#FOOD LINK">FOOD AND ITS LINK TO CELEBRATION AND RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE</a>
<a href="#THE SABBATH">THE SABBATH</a>
- <a href="#CHICKEN HAMIN">Chicken Hamin</a>
<a href="#JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND SOME OF THE FOODS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM">JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND SOME OF THE FOODS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM</a>
<a href="#ROSH HASHANAH">ROSH HASHANAH</a>
- <a href="#CARROTS">Carrots with Garlic and Yogurt</a>
<a href="#YOM KIPPUR">YOM KIPPUR</a>
- <a href="#BUFFET SURPRISE">Buffet Surprise</a>
- <a href="#TAMAR">Tamar's Yemenite Chicken Soup</a>
- <a href="#CHEESE PESTO PARTY MOLD">Cheese Pesto Party Mold</a>
- <a href="#APPLE CINNAMON LATKES">Apple Cinnamon Latkes</a>
<a href="#TU B'SHEVAT">TU B'SHEVAT</a>
- <a href="#EILEEN'S FABULOUS NOODLE KUGEL">Eileen's Fabulous Noodle Kugel</a>
- <a href="#HAMANTASHEN">Hamantashen</a>
- <a href="#THE ABRAVANEL'S HAROSET FOR PASSOVER">The Abravanel's Haroset for Passover</a>
- <a href="#PASSOVER SPONGE CAKE">Passover Sponge Cake</a>
<a href="#BONUS RECIPES">BONUS RECIPES</a>
- <a href="#HAWAYU OR HAWAJ">Hawayu or Hawaj</a>
- <a href="#HUMMUS">Hummus</a>
- <a href="#FISH IN SALSA VERDE">Fish in Salsa Verde</a>
- <a href="#CONNIE'S STUFFED CABBAGE">Connie's Stuffed Cabbage</a>
- <a href="#ROGGIE WEINRAUB'S MANDEL BREAD">Roggie Weinraub's Mandel Bread</a>
- <a href="#RUGELACH">Rugelach</a>
- <a href="#ELLIOTT ROESEN'S COUSCOUS">Elliot Roesen's Couscous</a>
While it is possible to argue for or against the existence of a “Jewish Cuisine”, no one can argue that food plays a central role in the daily life of Jews or that is stars prominently in the cycle of the Jewish year.
In this course we will look briefly at the history of the Jewish people and their dispersion, discuss a little about their dietary laws and then offer a selection of recipes connected to the progress of the Jewish religious year.
Not all Jews adhere to dietary laws ("keep kosher") nor do you have to be Jewish to enjoy this delicious food!
<a name="A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JEWS AND THEIR WANDERINGS">A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JEWS AND THEIR WANDERINGS</a>
At first, most of the world's Jews lived in, around, or near Jerusalem (the capital of what is now Israel). Here stood the Temple, the center of their religious, social and business life. The Jewish tribes where divided into those of the North, and those of the South but remained united under King Solomon. With his death, the Northern tribes decided to choose their own king and so emerged the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Under separate kings, the Jews nevertheless remained united in their religion and Jerusalem remained important to both.
But in 586 BCE the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and the Jewish peoples were exiled to Babylon (near present-day Baghdad). Even in exile, they retained their identity and looked to their priests and their religion to govern them. During this time, the foundations of Sephardic culture and cuisine were laid.
The Persian (Babylonian) dominance lasted until the rule of Alexander the Great. When Antiochus Epiphanes became king he instituted a policy of Hellenization which the Jews were willing to do as long as the Syrian rulers did not interfere in Jewish religious practices, or force them to worship Greek gods. During his reign, the Jews revolted when the king forbade the worship of their G-d and the custom of circumcision. Under the Jewish priest Mattathius the Jews refused to adapt and Mattathius and his 5 sons, led by Judah Macabee, organized a revolt. During the fighting, the Greeks desecrated the Temple by installing Greek gods in it and by sacrificing pigs on its altar. Ultimately the Maccabean revolt was successful, and by 164 B.C.E. the Jews had driven the Syrians out, and the Temple was rededicated. This victory is commemorated in the celebration of Chanukah..
Until A.D.70 the Southern tribe in Judea were ruled by Rome and lived under Roman law. However, the Jews refused to be assimilated into the Roman way of life. During the summer of A.D.71, the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem, captured and burned parts of the city and destroyed the Temple. Those Jews who were not sold into slavery, exiled, or murdered remained in the area. Jewish life was reorganized and synagogues (houses of gathering/study) were built to help maintain the Jewish identity. Thus, a Jewish way of life continued to exist throughout the Roman Empire.
Over the next few hundred years, Judaism remained a separate minority religion in the Mediterranean countries. The largest Jewish population in this period was located in Babylonia, Persia, and the lands of the Middle East. Jews were also found in smaller numbers in North Africa and Iberia. In addition, a tiny number lived in Italy, France, Sicily, Germany, and in what are today Greece, Bulgaria, and the Balkan Republics. From about the tenth century until the middle of the nineteenth century, there was even a flourishing community of Chinese Jews in the city of K'aifeng-fu,China.
During this period also, two important Jewish centers emerged in western Europe: Iberia (called Sepharad) and the Rhine River Valley (called Ashkenaz). Though these two medieval Jewish communities were geographically close, they developed different customs, laws, pronunciation of Hebrew and diet.
The Ashkenazim became resourceful in adapting to the local foods, while those
Jews living in Muslim countries, the Sephardic Jews, had culinary customs that were almost identical to those of their neighbors. Like the Jewish dietary laws, the Muslim diet forbids the eating of pork. Borrowing from its earlier Persian heritage, this cuisine includes sweet and sour dishes, and combinations of meat and fruit. In time, the Jews of Spain and Portugal developed a diet that combined Iberian, Arabic, and Jewish cooking styles. This cuisine was much more diverse and sophisticated than that of the medieval French/German Jews. Nonetheless, due to a degree of interaction between the communities, there was some commonality in certain foods. Today, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews sometimes differ in the foods served during certain holidays.
The Jews who were natives of Middle Eastern countries are referred to as Hamizrach-the ethnic communities of the Orient-"Oriental" Jews. These countries include Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Bukhara, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Aden, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, and part of Morocco. Because a large number of Sephardic Jews lived in the same areas as the Hamizrach, they have more or less blended into those countries where they settled. As a result, even today there remains some confusion as to who is Sephardic and who is Oriental.
<a name="#DIETARY LAWS (KASHRUT)">DIETARY LAWS (KASHRUT)</a>
In the realm of cooking, however, all three groups share one key similarity: no matter where they live, if they are observant Jews, their diets conform to the rules of Kashrut.
These dietary laws define for Jews what is “kosher” or acceptable and what is “trayf” or unacceptable. The laws of kashrut are complex and beyond the range of a course on cooking. They are best discussed with a Rabbi but here are two links for those interested in an overview:
How Do I Know It's Kosher?
My Jewish Learning
Further, the Jewish people, as in most religions, range from the ultra-Orthodox, who stress strict adherence, to those who are less stringent in their interpretation, and some Jews who do not adhere to them at all.
<a name="#FOOD LINK">FOOD AND ITS LINK TO CELEBRATION AND RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE</a>
Jewish life centers on tradition and holidays, especially the Sabbath. Special foods for important holidays and occasions are part and parcel of these traditions. For instance, during Passover no leavening agents (flour and wheat) can be used, and as the Jews moved into their new lands, some recipes were changed to accommodate this biblical restriction. Substitutes included ground almonds, potato flour, matzo meal, and matzos. In the Bible, the laws for observance of the Sabbath (from Friday sunset to Saturday sundown) prohibit any work, including lighting fires and cooking. So some recipes have developed that slowly cook on a low heat from Friday night until lunch on Saturday.
<a name="#THE SABBATH">THE SABBATH<a>
SHABBOS (Sabbath) is considered to be the most central institution in Judaism. It celebrates the time when G-d rested from creation, and through it we can bring ourselves to a new sense of family, of community, of peace, and put all thoughts of work aside. An atmosphere of tranquility and family unity descends upon the house. It is a day of rest, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a time to spend with family and friends. The commandment to observe Shabbos was one of the first given by G-d at Mt. Sinai. It has been seen as a precious gift from G-d to the Jewish people. Each observant Jewish family will celebrate this gift in some special way. The example I have given below is how one particular family might observe the Sabbath.
On Friday we get ready mentally and physically for Shabbos. The house has been cleaned, shopping done, a Shabbos meal has been prepared, we shower or bathe, put on clean clothes and get ready to welcome the Sabbath Queen. Shabbos is seen as a bride or queen and it is customary for the women of the house light the Sabbath candles on Friday evening before the sun goes down and Shabbos begins. Traditionally at least two candles are lit, but some people light more.
Photo courtesy of Chabad-Lubavitsch with permission.
As the candles are lit, blessings are said over them, and then the Sabbath is welcomed by singing the hymn Shalom Aleikem - Peace Be Unto You. This hymn welcomes the angels of peace.
In addition, parents bless their children before the meal. A blessing is recited over those gathered to celebrate: wife, husband, family, friends. Then the hymn of praise (Eishet Chayil - A Woman of Valor from the Book of Proverbs (31:30-31) is traditionally sung by the husband to honor his wife.
Blessings are recited over the bread (challah), and the wine, then the meal is eaten. During the meal it is a custom to rejoice by singing songs in praise of the Sabbath and G-d. These songs are called Zemirot, and many date back to the middle ages.
When the meal is finished, more blessings praising G-d for His goodness and for providing us with the food that sustains our lives are said. After dinner people may go to the synagogue for Sabbath services.
The next day, the family goes to morning services. When they return home around lunch time (if they are not having lunch at the synagogue), they will eat food that does not have to be heated. Many people serve foods like Cholent which IS cooked overnight in a low oven, or foods that have been left on a very low flame so they are warm.
The rest of the day is spent with the family, visiting friends, or just relaxing.
There is also a ceremony for the end of the Sabbath. A blessing is recited over a special Havdala (which means separation or division) candle. The Havdala candle is a braided candle, usually blue and white, with a double wick. A spice box with fresh spices is passed around for all to smell (this "raises the spirits” and offsets the sadness that often comes at the end of the joyous Sabbath Day when the problems of everyday life have to be faced once again).
Photo courtesy Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School with permission.
<a name="#CHICKEN HAMIN">Chicken Hamin</a>
A Sephardic version of Cholent or Sabbath Stew.
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
10 small potatoes, peeled
3 carrots, peeled, cut up if large
1 cup mixed lentils
1 chicken cut into serving pieces
freshly ground pepper
4 to 6 dates
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 225 F. Place the oil in the bottom of an 8quart pot, then add the onions, potatoes, carrots, lentils, chicken, salt, pepper, cilantro and dates.
Heat the sugar in a heavy pan until dark brown and caramelized and pour over the
ingredients in the casserole.
Add 6 cups water, or enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and place casserole in a 225 F oven and bake for about 12 hours.
After 6 hours of cooking, check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serves 8.
<a name="#JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND SOME OF THE FOODS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM">JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND SOME OF THE FOODS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM<a>
Jewish holidays seem to involve either feasting or fasting--nothing in between! All Jewish holidays begin at sundown because in the Bible it tells that when G-d created the world "there was evening and morning of the first day".
<a name ="#ROSH HASHANAH">ROSH HASHANAH</a> (New Year, or Head of the Year) marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and is the head of the year. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated with prayer, contemplation and soul searching--the need to evaluate one's actions and contemplating the way he/she is living. According to traditional Judaism, it is during this period that divine judgment on each person's life is made, and G-d decides and writes their "future" (who shall live and who shall die) for the coming year in the Book of Life. This "fate" is sealed by the end of Yom Kippur.
It is also a time of joy and hope for the year to come, and during services the shofar, or ram's horn is sounded as a reminder of spiritual awakening to arouse us from complacency and self satisfaction, and awaken us to reflection and action. In ancient days it served to call the people to prayer and announce the beginning of the holiday.
It is customary to dip apples in honey and eat sweet foods to symbolize the hope for a good and sweet New Year, a year that will be blessed with good health, happiness and fortune. Round loaves of challah are also eaten, and they serve as a symbol of the cyclical and eternal nature of life, and they express the hope that the coming year will be complete, unbroken by tragedy.
The Sephardic celebrate by serving foods made with honey - like baklava.
Custom dictates that on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, a fruit not tasted since last season be eaten before dinner to celebrate the newness of the year and to thank G-d for giving us another year. Bitter and sour foods are usually avoided during this holiday, as well as nuts (because the numerical value of the word "nut" in Hebrew has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for "sin)."
<a name="#Carrots">Carrots with Garlic and Yogurt</a> from: A Taste of Turkish Cuisine by Nur Ilkin and Sheilah Kaufman Carrots will never be the same after you've eaten this dish! Serve as appetizer or salad.
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
3 to 4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Drained Yogurt (place 3 cups yogurt in a cheese cloth in a colander over a bowl (let sit for 4 or 5 hours at room temperature)
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or paprika
In a 3-quart pot, heat 5 tablespoons of the oil and sauté the onions, stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes. Do not let them brown or burn. Add the carrots, stirring to mix well, and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Crush the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle.
Place the cooled carrots in a large bowl and add the drained yogurt and the garlic mixture. Mix well and place in a serving dish. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the paprika and drizzle in a design over the top of the carrots, decorate with olives if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 8.
<a name="#YOM KIPPUR">YOM KIPPUR</a> (Day of Atonement) is the holiest day of the Jewish year and is sometimes referred to as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths." By partaking in fasting, prayer, and charity, we ask G-d for forgiveness for our sins against Him, and from people whom we have harmed or offended during the past year. We must seek that person's forgiveness before asking forvigeness from G-d. This is a concept that is unique to Judaism. The Talmud teaches that "the Day of Atonement forgives sins between man and man." Sins against G-d may be forgiven throughout the year, but this is the day that man has more access to G-d.
On the eve of the holiday, a simple meal is usually served. While many people prefer to eat foods that are not salty or spicy before fasting, others like to have a full stomach. (If you drink a lot of coffee or soda, it is a good idea to taper off at least a week before fasting to avoid the withdrawal from caffeine!) After a day of prayer, contemplation, and fasting for 25 hours, the Break the Fast meal is served at the end of Yom Kippur, marking the end of the High Holy Days. Breaking the fast also depends on individual tastes and traditions. Many people like to have a light, simple meal of bland foods with family, others prefer having a more lavish meal, one with family and friends. Still others prefer to eat light, but want something filling, easy and satisfying. These are the key words for break the fast foods. Meals of dairy foods, lox and bagels or kugels are popular. The meal is composed of dishes that can be completely prepared ahead, and that require only a quick reheating, since no one wants to wait any longer than necessary to eat.
<a name="#TAMAR">Tamar's Yemenite Chicken Soup</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman
The BEST chicken soup ever!
4 pound whole chicken, cleaned and cup up
2 whole peeled onions
4 to 6 peeled carrots
bunch of leeks, whites only - save the green tops
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 peeled potatoes cut into chunks
1 butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks about 2" long by 1" thick
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Spices to taste including:
2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons hawaj *
1 teaspoon ground cumin
turmeric (not needed if using hawaj)
freshly ground pepper
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
Place chicken in a large pot and cover with enough cold water to cover plus an inch more. Bring to a boil, and as chicken cooks skim off bubbles and "scum" bout 20 minutes).
Add onion, carrots, leeks and parsley.
Cook for 20 minutes on medium heat then add potatoes and squash. Stir in bouillon cubes and spices. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook until chicken is done, about 45 minutes.
Add cilantro and chopped greens from the leeks, and cook another 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot and let soup cool.
Strain the broth.
Keep chicken separate. Tear or cut into pieces and add to soup before serving. If needed, add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
May be made ahead and frozen.
*See "Bonus Recipes" at the end of the lesson.
<a name="#Sukkot">SUKKOT </a> The 10 days of Awe and Repentance are followed by The Season of Our Rejoicing--SUKKOT the Feast/Festival of Booths. The Torah commandment to "rejoice" is mentioned more often in connection with this holiday than for any other. During the Festival of Booths or the Festival of the Tabernacles, G-d commanded us to dwell for seven days in tabernacles or booths. The word Sukkot means booth, and refers to the temporary shelters or huts (referred to as tabernacles in the Bible) built when our ancestors left Egypt and lived in the wilderness for 40 years before entering Israel. The holiday is celebrated in the synagogue and at home, with family and friends, centering around the Sukkot - a temporary shelter with evergreen branches, bamboo, or corn stalks for a roof that must be open to the sky.
Photo courtesy of Steve Henry Herman The Sukkah Project with permission.
All meals are supposed to be eaten in the Sukkot. Casseroles, hearty soups, and items easily carried from kitchen to the Sukkot are perfect for this holiday, and many people like to prepare dishes full of fall fruits or vegetables. Many families decorate the walls and roof of the Sukkot by hanging pictures of fruits and vegetables or they make strings of berries or popcorn and hang them. Some hang real fruits and vegetables for decoration.
Succot lasts nine days, and is very similar to Thanksgiving (in that both give thanks for a bountiful harvest). It is felt that the idea for Thanksgiving came from this holiday.
<a name="#BUFFET SURPRISE">Buffet Surprise</a> for Sukkot from: Simply Irresitible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Kosher Recipes by Sheilah Kaufman
I have been serving this to company for almost 30 years. People request it
when I invite them to dinner, which is fine for me because I can also make it
days ahead and refrigerate it or make it way ahead and freeze it for 3 to 4
months. The flavor just gets better! Great for Sukkot because it is a one-pot
meal and easy to carry out for serving under the stars.
3 to 4 lb boneless chuck roast
3 cans (28 oz each) sauerkraut, drained
l lb box dark brown sugar
28 oz can tomatoes with liquid
l peeled whole onion
l cut-up apple
In a large (at least 5 1/2 - 6 quart) pot place the meat. Dump the drained sauerkraut on top of the meat. On top of that empty the box of sugar. Dump the can of tomatoes and liquid over the sugar. Place the onion and apple pieces around the meat.
On the stove-top, cover and cook on LOW heat for about 4 to 5 hours, or until
meat falls apart and apple, onion, and tomatoes "dissolve".
Serves 8 - 10.
The climax or final day of the "season of our joy" is reached on SIMCHATH TORAH (The Rejoicing with the Torah), marking the completion of the reading of the Five Books of Moses. In the synagogue the Torah is read on Mondays, Thursdays (which were market days in ancient times), and Saturdays. It takes a year to complete the reading aloud of the Torah/Bible, which is then re-rolled and the reading started all over again). Simcha means joy and great rejoicing. All the Torah scrolls are brought out from the Ark where they are housed, and everyone sings and dances around the synagogue to thank G-d for giving us the Torah.
<a name="#Chanukah">CHANUKAH</a> (Festival of Lights), a happy holiday, is celebrated for 8 days and commemorates a miracle that occurred over 2,000 years ago (in the 2nd Century B.C.E.), when the Jews under Judah Maccabee were victorious over their Greek oppressors in a fight for religious freedom.
When the Temple was recaptured, the Jews wanted to rekindle the Menorah and to rededicate the Temple which had been spoiled by the enemy. Only a single small jar of pure oil that would burn for one day was found. Tradition says that the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until the new oil was available. This miracle is the focus of the Chanukah celebration, and one candle is lit in a menorah each night for eight nights. To celebrate, blessings of thanksgiving are offered, money (Chanukah gelt either real or chocolate) or gifts are exchanged, songs sung and games played. The most popular game is spinning the drayde/dreidel (a special 4 sided top with a letter on each side). Depending on which letter is up when the draydel stops, money or candy is won or lost. This game is derived from the edict of the Romans forbidding the Jewish people to study the Torah. Instead they would study in secret, and if the Romans were sighted they would hide the scrolls and play with the dreidels, pretending to gamble!
Photo courtesy of Jewish Appleseed Foundation with permission.
Chanukah is replete with foods and desserts fried in or made with oil, and cheese. Latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce and sour cream are favored by Ashkenazic Jews, while Sephardic Jews serve bimuelos which are round doughnuts rolled in cinnamon honey. Israelis serve sufganiyot (jelly filled doughnuts - from the Greek word 'surgan'( meaning puffed and fried). I recently learned, as I read through Joan Nathan's THE JEWISH HOLIDAY BAKER, that the oil used for fried foods relates to the end of the olive pressing at this time of year. "Greek women claim their loukomades--deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or sprinkled with powdered sugar--resemble the cakes the Maccabees ate." It seems every culture has a fried dessert, from Persians to Mexicans (who make soaipillas).
A final note: Judah Maccabee never ate a latke. He never even saw a potato. Potatoes did not reach Europe until the Conquistadors brought them from Peru and Ecuador in the 16h century and they did not come into use in Europe or the Middle East until 200 years later, and by then the custom of eating foods cooked in oil on Chanukah had been long established!
"And they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree".....Micah 4:4
<a name="#CHEESE PESTO PARTY MOLD">Cheese Pesto Party Mold for Chanukah</a> (Combines use of olive oil and cheese.)
from: Simply Irresitible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Kosher Recipes by Sheilah Kaufman
1 lb cream cheese at room temperature
1 lb butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
additional pine nuts for garnish - optional
In a mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth, and set aside.
Chop the basil in a food processor and add all remaining ingredients, except
cream cheese mixture, to make pesto. Add oil slowly, and stop if mixture
becomes too oily.
Mix until a paste is formed.
Drape an 18" square of cheesecloth into a 6 cup mold or flower pot.
Using 1/6th of the cream cheese mixture, pack it into the mold.
Top with 1/6th of the pesto.
Continue alternating and packing the cheese mixture and pesto until
everything is used.
Be sure and end with the cream cheese mixture.
Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Mold may be decorated by pressing additional pine nuts on top and sides
Serves 12- 20.
<a name="#APPLE CINNAMON LATKES">Apple Cinnamon Latkes</a>
Cooking Maven Phyllis Frucht loves this recipe that a friend made for her
for Chanukah. A nice change from potatoes!
2 large eggs, beaten until light and foamy
3 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/ 2 cup water
3 cups chopped cooking apples - chop them small as possible
1/ 2 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest (peel)
oil for frying
optional: 1 / 2 cup sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon
In a large bowl mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon with the beaten eggs.
Stir in the apple, flour, and lemon zest, mixing well.
In a large skillet, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Place about 1/4 cup of the mixture, (for each latke), in the hot oil.
Flatten slightly with a fork or wooden spoon.
Cook on each side until it is golden brown. Remove latkes from pan and drain
on paper towel as they cook. If more oil is needed, add it, heat it up, then add apple mixture (latkes) to cook.
Serve hot with sugar/cinnamon mixture to sprinkle on top.
Makes about 12 pancakes.
<a name="#TU B'SHEVAT">TU B'SHEVAT</a> (The New Year of the Trees) is celebrated on the full moon or 15th day of the month of Shevat. The 15th in Hebrew letters is "tu" hence the holiday's name. It is a minor festival which has gained in importance in the last decade as an environmental celebration. In Israel it is celebrated as Jewish Arbor Day and reminds us of the return to the land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. G-d instructed his people to revive the land and plant trees, fruits, vegetables and grain. The holiday is usually celebrated by eating the fruit of trees that grow in Israel: almonds, apples; apricot; figs; grapes; pistachios; walnuts; olives; and pomegranates. In the Bible (Leviticus 19:23-5) people are prohibited from eating the fruit of trees during the first three years after planting. This insures the trees will mature, bear fruit, and live a long life.
<a name="#EILEEN'S FABULOUS NOODLE KUGEL">Eileen's Fabulous Noodel Kugel</a>
A Kugel is a European noodle pudding. This superb dish is guaranteed to have everyone asking for the recipe! The tiny noodles are the secret as to what makes this so good. This is the first kugel I ever loved!
8 ounces tiny (soup) noodles
5 large eggs
1 pound cottage cheese (regular or low fat)
2 cups sour cream (regular or low fat)
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened to room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese (regular or low fat) softened to room temperature
cinnamon to taste
Preheat oven to 450 F. Cook the noodles for 5 minutes in boiling water.
Drain well and let cool. In a bowl, beat the eggs.
In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir in the noodles and eggs.
Grease an 10" x 17" ovenproof baking dish and pour in the mixture.
Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and bake at 450 F for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking for another 45 to 50 minutes or so (depends on size of your pan) until lightly browned on top.
Freezes beautifully after cooling to room temperature. Serves 8 to 12.
<a name="#PURIUM">PURIUM</a> is fun holiday and is celebrated with great merrymaking, but its beginnings lay in the worst of all possibilities: a decree of death for the Jews. In the end, the Jews were not annihilated and their enemies were conquered. Purium commemorates the miracle that happened in Persia and is celebrated by the reading of the Story or Book of Esther. The story tells how Queen Esther and her wise uncle Mordecai saved the Jewish people from death at the hands of the wicked Haman. Children (and some adults) love this holiday because they dress up in costumes, and are encouraged to make a lot of noise when Haman's name is mentioned (during the reading of the story). It is a time for parties, feasting and drinking. Foods are usually exchanged among friends, money is given to charity, and a festive holiday meal is enjoyed. Hamantaschen (three cornered filled pastries that are supposed to resemble Haman's hat) are traditional for Ashkenazi Jews, while Sephardic Jews serve foulares (hard cooked eggs in pastry which are suppose to represent Haman in jail on the gallows). Purium is one of the three
times during the year that it is traditional to serve "kreplach" (dough stuffed with meat), since kreplach have hidden stuffing.
Adapted from Claudia Roden's: The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York and posted here with the author's permission.
9 ounces flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 drops vanilla
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 teaspoons milk if needed
1 egg, lightly beaten for glaze
5 ounces poppy seeds
6 ounces milk
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons raisins
grated zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1 / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla. Cut the butter in
pieces and rub it into the four.
Mix in the yolk and press into a soft ball. Add a little milk if needed to
bind it. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.
Place the poppy seeds in a pan with the milk and simmer 15 minutes or until
thick. Add the honey, sugar, raisins, and cook 5 more minutes. Add the lemon
zest and juice, and the butter and mix well. Cool.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces for easier handling. Roll out each piece on a
lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin until about 1/ 8" thick. Cut dough into 3" rounds, take up the scrapes and roll them out again and cut into rounds.
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each round, Lift up the edges on 3 sides and fold over the filling to form a triangular pyramid, pinching the sides together to seal them but leaving the top open.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Arrange on a greased baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 15
to 20 minutes or until golden. Do not remove from baking sheet while hot or
they will crumble. Cool and lift off carefully with a spatula. Makes about
<a name="#PASSOVER">PASSOVER</a> ( the great holiday of freedom), named because the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Jews (who had placed lamb's blood on their door posts to distinguish them from the Egyptians) during the last plague when the first born of every Egyptian died. It lasts for 8 days and celebrates the liberation and deliverance of the Jews from slavery more than 3000 years ago.
Every year at the special Seder (order of the service) table the story is retold in the reading of the Haggadah, or narration which precedes the dinner. During the holiday no leavened bread (only matzoh and matzoh products) is eaten because the Jews had no time for their bread to rise in their haste to leave Egypt. One of the most important reasons for the Seder and retelling of the story of the Exodus is that in every generation each Jew must see themselves as if they personally were taken out of Egypt, and hear about the many miracles G-d performed for their ancestors. The holiday begins with a thorough cleaning of the home, and the kitchen is really cleaned with every crumb of hametz (leavened food) removed. Special plates and utensils are used during Passover that are not used during the rest of the year. Since all hametz is forbidden, Jews have created special recipes for observing the holiday. Ashkenazi cuisine differs from that of the Sephardic
Jews in that their meals feature gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzoh balls, kugels, tsimmis, while the Sephardic Jews use rice and corn, beans and peas during Passover, Ashkenazi do not.
<a name="#THE ABRAVANEL'S HAROSET FOR PASSOVER">The Abravanel's Haroset for Passover</a> from: URL=http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0781809266/qid=1069750046/sr=1-10/ref=sr_1_10/103-6195652-9584619?v=glance&s=books]Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman[/URL]
Stephen Mendes Abravanel told me about various Spanish-Portuguese minhagim
related to the festival. He offered this recipe for haroset as handed down in
his family. His family immigrated to Amsterdam from Portugal via Antwerp in the 17th century and from Amsterdam to America in the first half of the 19th century. "Also, as explained to me by my grandparents over 50 years ago, the concept is to make the haroset as the Torah quote - 'as black as pitch or mortar but sweet as written in Shir Ha Shirim - shachora ani v'na'va -I am black and beautiful.' We always served the "Portuguese haroset" on a small silver filigree plate which further beautified the observance of the commandment (hiddur mitzvah) - making the mitzvah of Pesach even more beautiful." "This recipe as far as I can tell, is unique among the recipes for haroset that I have seen but ...with all modesty, is the best haroset I have ever tasted." Stephen said.
Hiddur Mitzvah is a wonderful concept in halacha - it means to beautify the
observance of the commandment - for example lighting the shabbat candles is
a mitzah, but using beautiful silver candle sticks is hiddur mitzvah (hadar
in Hebrew means splendor), nothing has been written about the cuisine of
the Dutch Spanish -Portuguese Jews (as opposed to the Sephardic cuisines of the
Balkan, North African and Syrian Jews.
1 pound of dates
6 ounces of almonds - already ground very very fine - almost to a powder
3 tablespoons cherry jam
8 ounce glass of fresh orange juice with pulp or enough juice to cover dates
3 tablespoons of sweet grape wine, cointreau or sherry
Soak the dates in fresh orange juice, to soften, for an hour.
Place the dates with the juice into a blender and chop. blend the dates to as
fine as you can get it - remember it should resemble black tar or mortar.
Remove the dates, place in a bowl and mix with the wine and cherry jam
Sprinkle the almond powder over the haroset before serving.
<a name="#PASSOVER SPONGE CAKE">Passover Sponge Cake</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman
Pan de Espana Para Pesah
12 large eggs, divided, at room temperature
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cake meal
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one orange
2 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place the whites in a mixing bowl and begin to beat slowly. As bubbles begin
to form, turn mixer speed to high and slowly begin to add sugar.Continue beating until whites are stiff, glossy, and hold a peak. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, beat the yolks for 5 minutes, then add the zest and
juice of the lemon and orange.
Take at least a cup of beaten whites and fold carefully into the yolks, then
fold in remaining beaten whites.
Sift together the potato starch and cake meal. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the egg mixture and carefully fold in until blended.
Place cake batter in an ungreased angel pan and bake at 350 F for about an
hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and cake is lightly
<a name="#SHAVUOS">SHAVUOS</a> heralds the celebration of the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The Jewish people became a real nation and their identity was established when they accepted the Torah with the words "We will do and we will hear". This is a holiday where cheese and dairy is customarily eaten because the Torah is often compared with "milk and honey," and the people were not yet well versed in the laws of kosher slaughtering so they refrained from eating meat. Traditionally blintzes, borscht (beet soup) and cheese cakes are eaten. It is also the festival of the fruits, when the first fruits were brought to the Temple. In the synagogue, The Book of Ruth is read during the service. Three sided Kreplach filled with meat or cheese are traditionally eaten on Shavuos since three is a prominent number in Jewish tradition (three patriarchs, three parts of the Bible).
<a name="#BONUS RECIPES">BONUS RECIPES</a>
Here are a few additional recipes I want to share with you. I hope you try them and enjoy them.
*<a name="#HAWAYU OR HAWAJ">Hawayu or Hawaj</a>
A traditional Yemenite spice mix used in many types of recipes.
6 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
Using a mortar and pestle (or in a blender), pound (or combine) the peppercorns, caraway seeds, saffron and cardamom together. Stir in the turmeric and place in a covered jar.
<a name="#HUMMUS">Hummus</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman
Use as a dip, or a spread for sandwiches. I like this thick.
15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and liquid saved
1 cup tahini sauce (available in grocery stores, health stores, Mediterranean Markets)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 garlic cloves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
pita bread for dipping
Puree the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, paprika and olive oil in a blender or food processor. If needed, use the cooking liquid from the chickpeas to thin the hummus.
To serve, with the back of a spoon, make a depression around the top (of about 2/3 cup of hummus on a serving plate) and fill the depression with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and dip with pieces of pita bread.
Makes 3 cups.
<a name="#FISH IN SALSA VERDE">Fish in Salsa Verde</a> from: Simply Irresitible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Kosher Recipes by Sheilah Kaufman
Low in fat, delicious to eat. A wonderful company dish.
6 tomatillos (6 ounces) husked and finely chopped or a 13 ounce can tomatillos, drained, rinsed, and finely chopped
2 to 3 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
4 ounce can chopped green chilies, drained or 1 or 2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
a bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen fish like Tuna Steak, etc. cut into serving size pieces
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup hot or spicy olives, sliced
1/2 an avocado, seeded, peeled and chopped
Preheat oven to 450 F. Rinse fish and pat dry.
In a large bowl stir together the tomatillos, onion, chilies or Jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest, and sugar.
Combine cumin, salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Place fish in a lasagna size baking dish and brush with lime juice. Sprinkle with cumin mixture. Stir the olives and avocado into the salsa verde and toss on fish.
Bake uncovered in a 450 F oven for about 6 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serves 4.
<a name="#CONNIE'S STUFFED CABBAGE">Connie's Stuffed Cabbage</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman
This is an Ashkenazic dish, though Sephardic Jews make something similar.
1 large head cabbage
2 tablespoon oil
2 onions sliced
3 cups canned tomatoes
3 teaspoons salt divided
freshly ground pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 or 2 beef bones with marrow
3 tablespoons rice uncooked
4 tablespoons grated onion
3 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons or more honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup raisins
Soften cabbage by soaking in boiling water or remove core and freeze overnight.
Remove 12 large leaves or 18 leaves if heads are small.
Heat oil in a deep heavy pot and lightly brown onions. Add tomatoes, half the salt and pepper and all the bones. Cook over low heat 30 minutes.
Combine beef, raw rice, grated onion, egg, salt, pepper and water and mix well. Place some meat mixture on each cabbage leaf and tuck over sides and roll up carefully. Add rolls to the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat 1 1/2 hours.
Mix together the honey, lemon juice and raisins, add to pot and cook 30 minutes longer.
Serves 6 as main 12 as first course.
<a name="#ROGGIE WEINRAUB'S MANDEL BREAD"</a>Roggie Weinraub's Mandel Bread</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman
This is a much loved (Ashkenazic) cookie that is similar to biscotti.
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/ 2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
l cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Beat the eggs well and slowly add the sugar, beating well. Add the oil and vanilla and continue beating.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift 3 times!!!
Slowly add flour mixture to the batter, and beat just to combine.
Add the nuts and shape into logs. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Slice while hot and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
Reduce heat to 325 F and bake for another l0 minutes or more, until brown and dry.
Makes a few dozen pieces. Freezes well.
<a name="#RUGELACH">Rugelach</a> from: Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic
Another Ashkenazic dessert that is now even sold at Cosco!
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup yellow raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1/4 cup sugar for topping
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water to brush on top
In a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar, beating well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour with mixer on low, beating just until the ingredients form a dough. Do not over beat.
Divide the dough into 6 balls and wrap each ball in waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm - about an hour.
Prepare filling by mixing together the melted butter, walnuts, raisins, sugar, vanilla, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and the grated lemon peel.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
On a lightly floured surface roll out one ball of dough at a time into an approximate 8" circle. Sprinkle one-sixth of the filling over each circle, and roll up the dough into a long tube-like strip or log. Repeat with remaining dough.*
Place the strips on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with the additional sugar and cinnamon.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool the strips on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes and cut strips into 1/2" slices.
Makes about 4 dozen pieces.
*Or you can cut the dough into triangle shaped pieces and roll into crescents by starting at the large end and rolling to the point. Place point side down on a cookie sheet and brush tops with egg yolk wash and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes.
<a name="#ELLIOTT ROESEN'S COUSCOUS">Elliot Roesen's Couscous</a> from: Simply Irresitible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Kosher Recipes by Sheilah Kaufman
My cousin Roberta served this at one of her parties, and when I begged for the recipe she had me call the caterer, Elliott, and ask for it. He's a famous Norfolk, Virginia caterer, and this is one of his popular dishes.
12 ounce box couscous
2 cups Farm Rich or Half and Half
l Tablespoon honey
l Tablespoon margarine
3 ounces dried blueberries
3 ounces dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 to 3 bananas, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 to 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
In a large pot, bring to the boil the Farm Rich, honey, margarine, and couscous, stirring. Add the dried fruit and stirring, return to the boil and remove pot from the stove. Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous, and add the vanilla, almond extract, bananas, almonds, cardamom, and brown sugar, mixing well. Let it sit and serve at room temperature.
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Cooking through the Jewish Year
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