The Jewish Chronicle
Quick tips for a top
ARABBI ONCE told me that Shabbat should be like a weekly chag. A chance to dress up your table, push the culinary boat out and relax around the table with family and friends. What it should not be is a stress and a strain. Celebrity cooks and busy balaboostas (from Shabbas Recipes Facebook group) share their thoughts on how to make every Friday night a breeze.:
IT’S ALL IN THE PREPARATION:
One of the most popular tips I was given is to get some of your cooking-list ticked off earlier in the week. Thursday is a big night for meal prep. Great British Bake Off semi-finalist and mum of three, Stacey Hart gets her veg done the day before: “I always wash and cut my vegetables on Thursday and peel and chop my potatoes and leave them covered in cold water so they don’t brown.”
And it’s not just the food you can do in advance. Emma Spitzer, author of cookery book, Fress, and a busy working mother of four girls under 14, gets other jobs out of the way, too. “I lay my table on Friday morning, that’s one thing that stresses me out if I have to juggle that while cooking!”
Pepper your menu with dishes you can make in advance. Shabbas Recipes member, Della Groer’s tip is to serve salads that you can make on Wednesday and Thursday nights.” Salads with a grain or roasted-vegetable base are perfect for this. Just hold the dressing until Friday.
Spitzer makes dishing up her meal easier by serving a couple of room-temperature salads instead of hot veggies, so only the meat and potatoes need to be served last minute. She also does all her meat prep in advance: “Meat is always better marinaded the day before, so I leave it ready to just roast.”
Anne Shooter, author of cookery books Sesame and Spice and Cherish, and another working mum, gets some of her veggies done: “Some sides are even better when reheated and save the hassle of last-minute veg boiling. I particularly like roasted vegetable ratatouille or green beans cooked in a garlicky tomato sauce. Make the day before, then simmer until piping-hot or re-heat in the oven.”
DO-AHEAD SOUP AND SWEETS:
Any soup tastes better if made the day before, so always make yours on Thursday,” says Spitzer. “If I’m making chicken soup, I put the lokshen and matzah balls and shredded chicken in the soup bowls ready to just ladle over the soup before serving, makes dishing up so much quicker.
“I have a couple of favourite desserts which get made in advance — my crème brûlée-style noodle kugel and this delicious chocolate fondant.”
FEED THE FREEZER:
The freezer is your friend. A huge number of us rely on it to store a range of raw and cooked dishes. When you are making recipes like soups; matzah balls; challah; cakes and kugels, cook a double quantity and freeze half.
SWAP FOOD WITH A FRIEND:
Groer’s second top tip is to swap food with a friend. “She would make extra dessert and I would make extra side dishes.” I loved this idea — half the work, twice the food!
STICK TO STAPLES:
Another popular tip with the group was to stick with familiar dishes. Carrie Bornstein from Massachusetts in the US, recommends finding a few easy, low-effort dishes: “Don’t be afraid to repeat them — often!” Rotate a list of dishes you could make in your sleep.
One-pan meals are also popular with the Shabbas Recipe mavens. Stacey Hart is also a one-pan fan: “I love slow-roasting and one-pan dishes because they are real crowd-pleasers and are super easy to throw together with minimum room for error.”
Helen Goldrein who writes a kosher food blog, Family Friends Food, sticks to a Shabbat formula. “Friday night is protein (usually fish in our house) veg and potatoes. I can do it with my eyes shut and know how long everything takes, so I don’t get caught out at the last minute.” One pan also means less washing up — always a bonus SUPER SIMPLE STARTER
“Spread shop-bought hummus on to a platter and top (artfully, if you can) with roasted artichoke hearts and pepper; olives; pomegranate seeds; pine kernels; chopped tomatoes; sliced avocado and perhaps some fried mushrooms.” says Shooter. “You can even add heated, shop-bought chicken shawarma.
Such an impressive starter and virtually labour free!