August 20, 2010
Easy cooking for the holidays [RECIPES]
If you are in a dilemma about what to serve your family for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, expand your menu options to include dishes that can be served in both the dining room and the sukkah.
Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 8-10) usually occurs during the warmest days of the year, so I plan to serve a refreshing and delicious cold Apple-Spinach Salad With Sautéed Salmon as the main course. This recipe is made with a combination of diced apples, tahini and honey; it’s perfect because apples and honey are traditionally served during this holiday to ensure a sweet new year. The dressing can be prepared the day before and refrigerated. The spinach leaves are tossed with the mixture and topped with the sautéed salmon just before serving.
This year, Yom Kippur begins at sundown Friday, Sept. 17, and the break-the-fast meal is on Saturday evening. As with any Shabbat or Yom Kippur meal, most of the work for this menu can be done beforehand and carried to the table as the guestsarrive.
The transition from fasting to feasting should be a gradual one. Begin with challah to dip in honey. Serve a refreshing glass of lemonade, apple juice, tea or a glass of chilled rosé wine; that way, if family and friends arrive at different times, they can satisfy their thirst and hunger. Cold deli food is a great way to go — it allows you to serve an assortment of delicious cold dishes: platters of cheeses, potato salad, coleslaw, pickles, olives, cream cheese, lox and bagels. But the surprise will be a warm main dish, a Potato and Lox Casserole, which features a savory blend of potatoes, lox, onions and dill. Prepare the casserole in advance, store in the refrigerator, and reheat in the oven.
During the harvest festival of Sukkot (Sept. 22-29), children look forward to building the outdoor sukkah, where the traditional holiday meals are served. Many of the Sukkot main dishes include stuffed vegetables and casseroles of various kinds, which makes them easy to transport outdoors. Cabbage rolls baked in a rich tomato-wine sauce are a family favorite, especially when stuffed with a filling of ground chicken mixed with onions, garlic and grated potato.
Honey cake is the perfect dessert for all three holidays. Over the years, I have experimented with many recipes, and this delicious, high-rise spicy honey cake has a light, appealing texture, the result of folding in beaten egg whites. Try it once and you’ll never buy another store-bought honey cake.
A variation, especially for Sukkot, is to frost the honey cake with lemon icing and garnish with lemon peel; the lemon represents the ancient etrog, or citron, which is part of the holiday tradition.
APPLE-SPINACH SALAD WITH SAUTÉED SALMON
Prepare salmon and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the apples, green onions and celery with juice of one lemon to keep the apples from darkening. Set aside.
In a blender, food processor or a small bowl, blend together the mayonnaise, tahini, honey and juice from the second lemon; the mixture will be very thick. Toss with the apple mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
Just before serving, place spinach in a large bowl, add the apple mixture, and toss to coat the spinach thoroughly. Arrange diced sautéed salmon on top and garnish with sesame seeds.
Variation: Substitute poached chicken for the salmon.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS
Cut away the core of each cabbage. In a large saucepan, steam the cabbage over simmering water until soft enough to separate the leaves and fold them without tearing or breaking.
For Filling: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, eggs, diced onion, garlic, potato, rice and bread crumbs; blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
For Sauce: In a large ovenproof pot, heat the oil and sauté the chopped onion, garlic, celery and green pepper until tender. Add the tomatoes and their reserved liquid, tomato sauce, wine, brown sugar and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, additional brown sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer while preparing the cabbage rolls.
Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface, shape the chicken mixture into a ball, place it on the root end of the cabbage leaf, and roll it up to enclose the filling, envelope-style. Place the cabbage rolls close together, submerged in the pot of tomato sauce. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
Transfer the pot to a preheated 350 F oven and bake the cabbage rolls for 30 minutes.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
POTATO AND LOX CASSEROLE
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with butter. Arrange half of the sliced potatoes on the bottom. Arrange the slices of lox on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with the onion, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with a top layer of the remaining sliced potatoes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the cream over the potato mixture. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and pieces of butter over the potatoes.
Bake in preheated 400 F oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot or cold.
Makes 6 servings.
COFFEE AND SPICE HONEY CAKE
Makes 8 to 10 servings.