It's that time of year again, counting down to Pesah, so my Shabbat menu ended up being a multicultural hodgepodge something like this: roast veggie couscous, sweet and sour fish, Thai style squash soup, berry tzimmes, cheesey spinach and cauliflower kugels, Dundee cake and mince pie. Also known as finishing up the hametz and Tu B'Shvat dried fruit so that I can empty out the freezer and clean it. Or something like that. And yes, I keep my flour, assorted grains and dried fruits in the freezer. Keeps the ants at bay.
A few folks have asked me for the recipes, so here goes, just remember that these are kind of throw it together recipes (except for the Dundee) so amounts are estimates, well, guestimates, some entirely my own, some my attempts at reconstructing things my mother and grandmother used to make, with some help from the internet and cookbooks:
Berry Tzimmes - an old family recipe which I picked up from watching my Mum and Gran, so amounts here are very approx, never really measured anything for this, just do it by instinct. YMMV
4 large punnets of whatever berries or plums are in season (this time of year strawberries are cheap and plentiful, so that's what I used)
@ 600 gr of frozen blueberries, rasberries or blackberries (in the right season I use all fresh, but right now there are only strawberries, so I add some frozen berries for variety)
1 oz/29 ml vanilla extract
sweet pouring cream or sour cream (optional)
1. Thoroughly wash the berries and inspect for bugs.
2. Place all the berries in a large soup pot.
3. Add water until berries are just covered.
4. Bring to the boil, then turn down the flame and cook covered for about an hour.
5. Add the vanilla and stir well.
6. Simmer for a few minutes while stirring, then turn down the heat and allow to cook for another 1-3 hours, or until the berries are quite mushy and disintegrating into the soup.
7. Chill overnight in the fridge
8. Serve either by itself or with a little sweet cream drizzled in it or a swirl of sour cream.
9. Store in the freezer, the day before serving allow to thaw partially in the fridge until it turns to slush rather than liquid. Very refreshing on a hot day!
NB I make this without sugar, some people prefer to add sugar either in the cooking process or when serving.
Cauliflower cheese kugel type thing
1 large head cauliflower
1/4 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 pack salted butter or olive oil
400ml sour cream or soft white cheese (gvina levana)
1-2 tsp black pepper (depending on how peppery you like things)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1-2 tsp granular mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
200gr crumbled cheddar, pecorino or kashkeval
100gr grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 180C
1. Carefully wash cauliflower and inspect for bugs. Pat dry. Chop into smallish florets and set aside.
2. In a med-large pot melt butter or heat oil. Gradually blend in flour.
3. Gradually add the sour cream/white cheese stirring constantly
4. Add the pepper, Worcestshire sauce and mustards until the sauce has thickened.
5.Add grated parmesan and stir in.
6. Add crumbled cheddar/pecorino or kashkeval and stir until it starts to melt and is well mixed into the sauce.
7. Add cauliflower florets and mix well. Turn off the heat.
8. Lightly grease an ovenproof casserole dish and pour in the cauliflower mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cauliflower is starting to soften.
Dundee Cake - my grandmother used to love this, one of the few British recipes she made, apologise it isn't in metric, this is me trying to reconstruct what she did.
10 oz flour (I usually use all wholewheat or a mix of whole and white)
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp mixed spice (mostly cinnamon, ginger and allspice with a pinch of cloves and nutmeg)
6 oz butter
6 oz sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp whiskey (if you can, use the good stuff)
8 oz sultanas (golden raisins)
8 oz raisins (or just 16 oz raisins if you don't have sultanas)
2 oz chopped mixed peel (or a mix of grated lemon and orange peels, dried candied peels is the way my gran made it)
2-3 oz chopped glace cherries (I've tried it with frozen fresh too)
Preheat oven to 170C (I think this is about 330 or 350 F, my oven is metric, can't remember what temp exactly in F)
1) Sift flour, baking powder and spices together
2) Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy
3) Beat in the flour mixture, eggs and vanilla.
4) Beat in the fruit. If the mixture is a bit stiff add 1-2 tbsp milk
5) Add 2 tbsp whiskey and stir in
6) Line an 8 inch baking tin with greaseproof paper
7) Pour batter in to the tin
8) Place in preheated oven and bake for about 2 hours or until a knife in the centre comes out clean. Check after 1.5 hours to make sure cake isn't too dry.
9) Serve at room temp with a nice cup of milky tea (unless you are like me and hate milky tea)
NB Some people "feed" the cake by making holes in it after it has baked and pouring in a little more whiskey which is absorbed by the cake. Gran only did this for Purim :-)
Roasted cous-cous veg
1 aubergine, chunked
1 large red pepper, in eighths
1 large wedge of pumpkin, chunked
1 small butternut squash, chunked
2 red onions, in narrow wedges
3-5 celery stalks, chunked
1 small head garlic, in peeled cloves
2 courgettes, sliced
350 gr wholewheat couscous
1/4 pack butter or equivalent olive oil
generous handful fresh chopped coriander or mint (optional)
Optional: 1 cup or 1 can chickpeas
1)Preheat oven to 200C
2) Arrange all the veg (including garlic cloves) in a large roasting pan (I often need two!)
3) Season well with black pepper, sprinkle on a little salt and drizzle with olive oil.
4) Roast for 1-1.5 hours depending on how soft or charred you like your veg. Check periodically and mix the veg to make sure it roasts evenly.
5)While the veg is roasting, take a large and deep ovenproof dish and empty the couscous into it and cover in @500ml of boilding water. Cover and leave to steep for 5-7 minutes.
6) Fork through and gradually mix in the butter/olive oil (option, add the fresh chopped herbs), and a little black pepper to taste.
7) Place in a broad, deep serving dish (if you're lucky your deep ovenproof dish will serve this purpose too)
8) Drizzle juices from the roasted veg onto the couscous (mix in the chickpeas with the veg if using) and pile the veg on top of the couscous. Serve like this or mix in, whatever you like.
(If making for Shabbat don't heat the couscous right on the plata, as it may burn, put an upside down ceramic dish under your ovenproof serving dish to buffer from the direct heat of the plata)
Spinach cheese kugel
1 large pack fresh spinach, finely chopped (or a bag frozen chopped spinach)
1/3 cup wholewheat flour
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 finely chopped onion
200gr grated cheddar, Emek or other yellow cheese
100 gr parmesan (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Saute onion in a little olive oil
3. Transfer to heatproof mixing bowl (eg pyrex) and mix well with spinach and crushed tomatoes
4. Mix in flour until well blended with the wet mixture
5. Mix in cheese
6. Beat eggs and add to mixture, mixing well.
7. Pour into ovenproof dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the kugel starts to set a bit.
(I make this for Pesah with a little matza meal, or gluten-free with a little potato flour, if you make it with more eggs or add a little mayo it also works well without any flour)
Simple baked fish
4-5 filets nesikha (Nile Perch, or other firmish white fish)
Juice of a lemon
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1) Preheat oven to 180C.
2) Place fish in an ovenproof dish
3) Pour lemon juice over fish
4) Sprinkle generously with paprika and less generously with black pepper
5) Arrange the thin slices of garlic and fennel on and all around the fish
6) Drizzle with olive oil
7) Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on how thick your fish slices are
Mincemeat (fruit) pie - another childhood memory which I've been trying to reconstruct. The key to this is not eating it fresh, works best if you leave it in the freezer for a few months, or if when you make the mincemeat/fruit filling, you leave that in an airtight jar for weeks and weeks and weeks. Flavour definitely improves with time. I just happened to have one in my freezer that I made in December and meant to serve on Purim, hence this comes under contents of my freezer to use before Pesah.
1-2 finely chopped granny smith apples (optional)
400 gr raisins (or 200gr raisins and 200gr sultanas)
200gr currants (or 200 gr raisins if you don't have any)
200 gr mixed candied citrus peel
100 gr demarara (light brown) sugar
100 gr brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
150 ml whiskey or brandy, or a blend of both
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice (or a mix of allspice and ginger and a pinch of ground cloves OR a cheesecloth bag with a couple of allspice balls and two spikes of cloves)
1 large lemon, zest and juice
1 large orange, zest and juice
Mix together, chopping fruits, stir thoroughly and leave to soak under cling film for a week, stirring regularly. If storing long term, seal in a sealed pickling jar.
Some people make this into cute individual mince pies (like the kind you can I think still get at Grodzinski's), but when made it home it usually ends up as one big pie.
225 gr cold butter, diced
350 gr wholewheat flour
100 gr demarar (light brown) sugar
@300 gr mincepie filling
1 small egg beaten
1) Rub butter into flour, mix in sugar, pinch salt. Combine into a ball and knead, dough should be firm.
2) Preheat oven to 200C
3) Grease pie tin. Pour filling in to tin. Roll out dough and stretch over the top, alternately crumble over the top like a crumble topping (that's how my Mum used to make it). Brush top with beaten egg. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
To make individual pies instead take a muffin tin and grease each hole. Press walnut sized balls of dough into each hole. Spoon in filling. Take smaller balls of dough and flatten into lids to seal the pies. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake for about 20 mins. Should be enough for almost two muffin pans. This is the more traditional English way to make mince pies.