Pascale’s Kitchen: A special autumn Shabbat menu

This time of year, I mostly find myself yearning for easy-to-make comfort foods that are perfect for the cool days of autumn

 Beef, bean and pumpkin stew  (‘Tabichat luvya bikara safra’) (photo credit: CHAGIT GOREN)
Beef, bean and pumpkin stew  (‘Tabichat luvya bikara safra’)
(photo credit: CHAGIT GOREN)

I love Shabbat. For me, it is a time to slow down and take a break from the busy work week. But after the Tishrei holidays, when it was easy to lose track of time during all those holiday and Shabbat meals, it’s hard to drag myself into the kitchen to prepare yet another festive meal for Shabbat

And so, this time of year, I mostly find myself yearning for easy-to-make comfort foods that are perfect for the cool days of autumn. Sometimes I like to prepare meals based on a specific cuisine from different parts of the world or that use seasonal ingredients. The key is to make dishes that make your life easier. 

Despite all this, however, it’s hard for me to skip a week of preparing challot and special rolls for Shabbat. This is what makes me feel the holiness and tradition of Shabbat each week. And so, even though, like everyone else, I was exhausted from making festive meals for the High Holy Days, I couldn’t help myself, and I set out to prepare my sweet rolls.

You can make the rolls in a variety of shapes: spiral, braids, twists or circles.  Depending on how much time you have, you can choose simple or more intricate forms. Even before you take the first bite, you will feel the love emanating from your oven and know that you will soon be experiencing the sweetness of Shabbat. 

This week, I’ve also chosen to bring you a recipe for beef, bean and pumpkin stew, known in Tripoli as tabichat luvya bikara safra. This recipe is extremely easy to make, as most of the magic takes place while it is cooking on the stove. This meat stew is traditionally served with couscous or white rice, and it tastes even better the day after it was prepared. 

 Mini sweet rolls (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Mini sweet rolls (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

And, of course, I cannot offer a Shabbat menu without including a delicious cake. This week, I am bringing you a recipe for one of my favorite cakes, made with vanilla cream, chocolate and nuts. I’ve received many, many requests from readers that I post the recipe for this amazing dessert. One of the reasons it’s so unique is that it incorporates a number of flavors and textures, which you experience all together with each bite. You can prepare the vanilla cream cake in a rectangular, square or circular pan.

Wishing all of you a Shabbat shalom.

Beef, bean and pumpkin stew  (‘Tabichat luvya bikara safra’)

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, cut into pieces
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into small pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 600 gr. beef (shoulder, head or brisket), cut into medium chunks, rinsed and drained
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ Tbsp. spicy paprika
  • 1 level tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 3 cups dry white beans, soaked overnight in water, then rinsed and drained, or frozen
  • ½ kg. pumpkin, cut into pieces
  • 4 large red potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onion, tomato, peppers and garlic, and mix well. Add the beef, tomato paste, paprika, cumin and salt, and mix well. Pour 4 cups of water on top and bring to a boil.

Add the beans, pumpkin and potatoes, then pour the remaining water on top. The water should cover the beans and vegetables. Stir the pot and then cover and cook over medium heat for 2 hours, or until half of the water has been absorbed and the beans have softened. If needed, you can add another ½ to ¾ cup of water. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 2.5 hoursStatus: Meat

Mini sweet rolls

Makes 24-28 mini rolls.

  • 1 kg. wheat or spelt flour
  • 50 gr. fresh yeast or 2 Tbsp. dry yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. silan or honey
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ - 3 cups lukewarm water

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten

Topping: 

  • ½ cup sesame seeds

Add the flour, yeast, sugar, oil, silan, salt and egg to a bowl and mix well. Gradually add the water, while kneading the dough. Knead the dough until it is well mixed. Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise for 90 minutes, or until it doubles in volume. 

Separate the dough into 24-28 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. (If you choose to form a different shape or size, the number of pieces will change accordingly.)

Arrange the dough balls on a baking sheet that is greased or lined with baking paper. Let the balls rise another 15 minutes, then brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 25 minutes. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 2.5 hours, including time to let dough riseStatus: Parve

 Vanilla cream, chocolate & nut cake (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO) Vanilla cream, chocolate & nut cake (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)

Vanilla cream, chocolate & nut cake

Use a 25cm x 27 cm greased pan.

Dough:

  • 2 ½ cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder, sifted
  • 200 gr. butter or margarine
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp. rum

Vanilla cream:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 package of vanilla pudding powder
  • 3 drops of quality vanilla extract

Icing layer:

  • 1 cup apricot, raspberry, strawberry or plum jam
  • ½ cup chocolate pieces, grated
  • ½ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

Topping:

  • 50-70 gr. bittersweet chocolate shavings

To prepare the dough: Place all the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth. Take a bit of the dough and form a ball with a diameter of 10 or 12 cm. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for an hour. 

Take the rest of the dough, and line a baking dish with it, and then poke holes in it with the tines of a fork. Spread the jam on top, then sprinkle with the grated chocolate and chopped nuts. 

To prepare the vanilla cream: Add the egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed. Gradually add the sugar while mixing, and mix until stiff peaks form. Fold in the vanilla pudding powder and the vanilla. 

Spread the vanilla cream evenly on the dough. Take the dough ball out of the fridge and grate it over a bowl. Add the grated chocolate and mix. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cream. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 30 minutes. Let cool.

Level of difficulty: MediumTime: 2 hours, including cooling timeStatus: Dairy or parve

Translated by Hannah Hochner.