‘Jewish Veg­e­tar­ian Cook­ing’ for the High Hol­i­days

Recipes for saf­fron rice with raisins, and sweet and sour small white onions

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS -

The Jewish High Hol­i­days be­gin with Rosh Hashana, of­ten called the Jewish New Year. It starts next week, at sun­down on Sept. 20, and marks the be­gin­ning of the year in the He­brew cal­en­dar. The hol­i­day marks the be­gin­ning of the Ten Days of Re­pen­tance, which ends with Yom Kip­pur, the Day of Atone­ment.

Jewish hol­i­days, like many re­li­gious ob­ser­vances cel­e­brated by most cul­tures and re­li­gions, are times when fam­ily and friends gather around the ta­ble with spe­cial food, much of which has a sym­bolic mean­ing. Quite of­ten the dishes served bring back fond mem­o­ries of child­hood.

I re­mem­ber help­ing my pa­ter­nal grand­mother roll out the dough for chal­lah bread that would later be dipped in honey at the Rosh Hashana din­ner ta­ble. Ap­ples are also dipped in honey, sym­bol­iz­ing a sweet new year. Her honey cake was a fa­vorite of mine.

My ma­ter­nal grand­mother baked rugelach, a dough rolled around fill­ings like choco­late, nuts, raisins or pre­serves. My job, in ad­di­tion to eat­ing them, was to sprin­kle the fill­ing on the dough. She is long gone and her recipe for this treat was never writ­ten down. I guess she wanted it to be hers, a recipe no one else would ever be able to make. Sound fa­mil­iar?

To­day, many of us want to eat health­ier, watch our weight, eat food that gives us en­ergy and fol­low a more plant-based diet. With this in mind, en­joy­ing tra­di­tional Jewish hol­i­day food could be chal­leng­ing. Re­cently, I was made aware of “Hazana: Jewish Veg­e­tar­ian Cook­ing” by Paola Gavin (© 2017, Quadrille Pub­lish­ing, $35), which will be avail­able on Oct. 3 (it can be pre-or­dered now).

I was cu­ri­ous to know what Hazana means. In mod­ern He­brew it refers to nour­ish­ment, a word that en­cap­su­lates the role food and cook­ing play in Jewish life. Jewish peo­ple have taken their culinary her­itage and tra­di­tions with them across the world. Wher­ever they set­tled, they adapted the lo­cal and re­gional dishes to fit their own di­etary laws, which is why Jewish food to­day en­com­passes an enor­mous va­ri­ety of cuisines and cook­ing styles.

The book shares 140 tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary Jewish veg­e­tar­ian dishes that have been passed down from mother to daugh­ter for gen­er­a­tions. It is an in­ter­na­tional jour­ney through 20 coun­tries, from Poland to Morocco, Italy, Lithua­nia, Turkey and be­yond.

The in­tro­duc­tion ex­plains the foods eaten dur­ing the Jewish hol­i­days. I en­joyed, as will those in­ter­ested in world food cul­ture, the au­thor’s ex­plo­ration of the Jewish his­tory and tra­di­tions of the Old World, pre­sented by coun­try.

The au­thor writes: “Re­search­ing this book has been a great op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover the his­tory and culinary her­itage not only of my own fam­ily — who orig­i­nally came from Poland and Be­larus — but also to trace the his­tory and culinary tra­di­tions of Jews from so many dif­fer­ent parts of the world. One thing we all have in com­mon is the same love of Sweet and sour small white onions from “Hazana: Jewish Veg­e­tar­ian Cook­ing.” food and cook­ing, some­thing that lies at the heart of Jewish life.”

Here are a cou­ple of sneak-pre­view recipes for you to pre­pare from the soon-to-be-pub­lished book. For the recipe for potato and carrot kugel, visit bit. ly/2wK10jq.

To those who cel­e­brate, “Shanah To­vah!” which means good year.

The head­note says: “This saf­fron rice is of­ten served for Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), as the ad­di­tion of raisins is said to sweeten the year ahead.” (Egypt and Turkey)

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1½ cups long-grain rice 3 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped ½ cup pine nuts 3 ta­ble­spoons raisins 2 cups hot veg­etable stock or wa­ter ¼ tea­spoon saf­fron threads, dis­solved in 2 ta­ble­spoons hot wa­ter Salt and freshly ground black pep­per

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Wash the rice un­der cold, run­ning wa­ter and drain. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the onions and pine nuts over a mod­er­ate heat un­til the onions are translu­cent. Add the rice and raisins and stir well, so each grain of rice is coated in oil. Add the hot stock and the saf­fron liq­uid and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Cover and sim­mer for 18-20 min­utes or un­til the rice is ten­der but still firm, and small craters have ap­peared in the sur­face of the rice. Serve hot. Makes 4 serv­ings. This head­note says: “In this clas­sic Sab­bath dish, onions are sim­mered with sul­tanas (golden raisins) in a de­li­cious sweet and sour sauce made with sugar, red wine vine­gar and marsala.” (Italy)

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

5 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 1½ pounds small white onions, peeled but left whole 2 ta­ble­spoons sugar, or to taste 2 ta­ble­spoons red wine vine­gar ½ cup sul­tanas (golden raisins) 2 ta­ble­spoons dry marsala 4 ta­ble­spoons hot wa­ter Salt and freshly ground black pep­per

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large fry­ing pan and add the onions. Cover and cook over a gen­tle heat for about 25 min­utes or un­til the onions start to soften. Dis­solve the sugar in the vine­gar, then add to the pan along with the sul­tanas, marsala and the hot wa­ter. Stir well and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Sim­mer for a fur­ther 40 min­utes or un­til the onions are golden and the sauce is caramelized. Trans­fer to a serv­ing dish and serve chilled. Makes 4-6 serv­ings.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MOWIE KAY

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