Sweet Feasts

Rosh Hashana followed immediately by Shabbat means a lot of cooking.

Rice Pilaf 311 (photo credit: Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)
Rice Pilaf 311
(photo credit: Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)
This year Rosh Hashana is followed immediately by Shabbat, adding up to a three-day festival period with a lot of cooking to do. Fortunately, there are ways to plan ahead so that meal preparation involves less effort.
One of my favorite shortcuts is to use ingredients for more than one meal in different ways so that dinners won’t be repetitious. For example, on one day you can fill hollowed out tomatoes with a festive stuffing, like the Holiday Rice Stuffing with Toasted Nuts and Spiced Meat below, and bake the tomatoes until they are tender. On another day you can bake the same stuffing inside a chicken or simply serve it on its own as a side dish.
Cooked vegetables lend themselves beautifully to being served in various ways. If you like sweet carrots for Rosh Hashana, you can poach carrots in water, and then glaze a portion of them with honey or sugar. To use the remaining carrots in another dinner, I use a technique I learned from my mother for adding flavor to all sorts of vegetables, from cauliflower to zucchini. I heat the cooked vegetables in a pan of roast chicken; the chicken’s gravy gives them a rich flavor.
The honey cake found in most households during the High Holy Day period can be the basis of enticing desserts. An easy way to embellish it is to top slices of honey cake with warm apple compote, whipped cream and toasted almonds.
This sumptuous Middle Eastern pilaf is popular for stuffing all sorts of poultry, from quail to turkey. Instead of baking it inside a bird, you can serve it as a bed for roasted poultry or meat. It is also substantial enough to be served as a light main course. Most often it’s flavored with sauteed ground lamb or beef, but chopped chicken giblets are another option. I enjoyed a tasty rendition of this dish in Istanbul, where the rice was enriched with just a bit of lamb and with plenty of pine nuts and currants and served as an accompaniment for a braised whole chicken. Toasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios might also garnish this creation; the most festive versions include several kinds of nuts as well as dried fruit.
If you have Seven Spices or baharat spice blend, you can substitute 1 to 11⁄2 teaspoons of it for the allspice and cinnamon in this recipe.
2 to 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
225 gr. to 350 gr. lean ground meat
1⁄2 to 1 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
11⁄2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups hot meat or chicken broth or water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄3 cup dried currants (optional)
1⁄2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1⁄2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1⁄2 cup shelled toasted pistachios
Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a deep saute pan or stew pan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add meat, allspice and cinnamon and saute, stirring to separate meat into small pieces, until it browns lightly. Add rice and saute, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add broth, salt and pepper. Stir once and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook over low heat, without stirring, for 15 minutes.
Add currants without stirring, cover and cook for 3 more minutes, or until rice is just tender. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
Gently fluff rice with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Lightly fold in two thirds of the toasted nuts. Serve hot, topped with remaining nuts.
Makes 4 or 5 servings or about 5 to 51⁄2 cups, enough to stuff 1 chicken with extra to serve separately.
This recipe makes sweet glazed carrots for one meal, and plain cooked carrots to heat in a pan of roast chicken for another.
900 gr. carrots, scraped
3 cups water
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar (for glazing half the carrots)
2 to 3 tsp. vegetable oil (for glazing half the carrots)
Cut carrots in diagonal slices about 1 cm. thick. Combine carrots, water, and salt in a medium saute pan. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer 7 minutes over medium heat.
To save carrots for another meal: Remove half the carrots and set aside. Remove liquid, measure and return 3⁄4 cup to pan. (Reserve remaining liquid for soup.) To make glazed carrots: Add sugar and oil to carrots remaining in pan. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 8 or 9 minutes. Watch so mixture does not burn. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes 4 servings.
The roasting juices of chicken lend good flavor to vegetables, and so I often add vegetables to the roasting pan, as in this Italian-inspired dish accented with fresh rosemary.
This entree is made in advance and reheated with the carrots before serving. If you prefer instead to serve the entree as soon as it’s ready, add the carrots to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking; watch them carefully so they don’t burn.
A 1.4-kg. to 1.6-kg. chicken
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
900 gr. small new potatoes or medium-sized red potatoes
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 cups lightly cooked carrots, cut in thick slices
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional garnish)
Preheat oven to 200º. Pull out fat from inside chicken.
Set chicken in a small roasting pan just large enough to hold it and potatoes in one layer. Stuff chicken with 1 rosemary sprig. Pour 1 tablespoon oil over chicken, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and rub seasonings into chicken. Add onion to pan. Add 3 more rosemary sprigs to pan and tuck it under chicken.
If potatoes are small, peel a strip of peel around center. If potatoes are over 2.5 cm. in diameter, halve them. Put potatoes around chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper and remaining oil. Stir to coat potatoes with oil.
Roast chicken uncovered 30 minutes. Turn potatoes over.
Tip pan and baste chicken and potatoes. Roast 30 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender and chicken juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with a thin knife or skewer. If potatoes are not yet tender, remove chicken and bake potatoes a few more minutes. Discard rosemary.
Carve chicken in 4 pieces. Shortly before serving, reheat chicken in its juices in the roasting pan, covered, along with potatoes and carrots at 175º. Skim excess fat from roasting juices. Taste juices and adjust seasoning. When serving, spoon a little of pan juices over chicken and vegetables.
Garnish with fresh rosemary.
Makes 4 servings.
This dessert is composed of honey cake slices spread with chunky French apple compote, which you can use warm or cold. Top each portion with whipped cream or ice cream (regular or parve) and then sprinkle it with toasted slivered almonds or other nuts.
900 gr. apples, sweet or tart
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (or butter for meatless meals)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon (optional)
3 to 5 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
4 to 8 slices honey cake
Whipped cream or ice cream (for serving)
4 to 6 Tbsp. slivered almonds or other nuts, lightly toasted
Peel, halve and core apples. Cut them in thin wedges.
Heat oil in a large, heavy, deep saute pan or flameproof casserole. Add apples and saute over medium-high heat, turning pieces over from time to time, for 2 minutes or until they are coated with butter. Add lemon juice and grated lemon zest. Cover tightly and cook over low heat, stirring often, about 20 minutes or until apples are very tender.
Stir in 3 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until mixture is thick and nearly all the liquid in the pan evaporates. Taste and add more sugar if desired; heat briefly to dissolve it. For serving, leave compote cold or at room temperature, or warm it if you prefer.
At serving time, top each slice of honey cake with apple compote. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, and then sprinkle with toasted nuts. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 8 servings.
Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes.