Weekends are a very special time for me. Throughout the week, we are all busy working, checking items off our to-do lists and fulfilling responsibilities. As the weekend approaches, a new feeling begins in our minds and hearts: Looking forward to the quiet, relaxed time off from our busy schedules, the sound of children’s laughter, and meaningful conversation with friends and family who’ve come to visit.
For me, one of the best ways to pamper my family is by preparing meals and treats that they love. Each person has a special dish that is their absolute favorite. This week, I’m bringing you three recipes for dishes that are featured among my family’s favorites. I hope you and your families will enjoy them, too.
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The first is for homemade sweet rolls, the second is for sweet and spicy baked chicken and potatoes and the third is a semolina cake for dessert.
I like to bake different types of fresh bread for each Shabbat meal. Sometimes I make bread with herbs and vegetables, or a braided challah in a variety of shapes. My favorite type of bread to make, though, is sweet rolls. This week, I’ve brought you one of my easiest recipes for making round sweet rolls.
At any given moment during the week, my kitchen is in active use. I’m either preparing food for my family, or I’m experimenting with new recipes, techniques or raw materials. There are some dishes that I end up preparing again and again, since my children are constantly requesting them. One such dish is roasted chicken and potatoes.
The secret to the success of this dish is that it’s cooked at low heat for a few hours, which keeps it moist inside and crispy on the outside. Since this dish requires a few hours in the oven, I usually bake the rolls and cake first, then put the chicken and potatoes into the oven. I cook them for a few minutes on medium heat, then lower the heat and cook them for at least another 2.5 hours.
The semolina cake, which is covered with citrus syrup while it is still hot, hails from Tripolitan cuisine, where it’s known as Safra. There are many ways to prepare this cake, and the one I’ve chosen to share is one of the simplest versions.
ROUND, HOMEMADE SWEET ROLLS
Makes 28-32 small rolls.
- 1 kg. flour, sifted
- 50 gr. fresh yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. silan
- ½ cup oil
- 2 Tbsp. margarine
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 2½-3 cups water, at room temperature
- 1 egg beaten with 2 drops of oil
- ½ cup sesame seeds, optional
Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, oil, silan, margarine, salt and egg in a bowl. Add the water gradually while kneading the dough. Knead a few more minutes. Set the dough aside to rise in a warm place for 1-1½ hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
Separate the dough into 24-28 pieces. Roll out each piece into balls. If you decide to make the rolls in a different shape, the number of rolls you end up with will naturally be adjusted accordingly.
Place the rolls in a greased pan. Brush them with egg wash, then sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 25 minutes.
If you wish, you can let the rolls rise a second time for 15 minutes before baking.
Level of difficulty: MediumTime: 2.5 hours, including letting dough riseStatus: Parve
SWEET AND SPICY CHICKEN WITH POTATOES
Makes 6-8 servings.
- 6-7 pieces of chicken
- ¾ cup sweet and spicy chili sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped or whole
- 1 Tbsp. honey or silan
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 tomato, grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½-¾ cup water
- 4-5 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces or quarters
Clean the chicken pieces. You can remove the skin if you want, but I like to keep the skin on so that the chicken doesn’t get too dry.
Place the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and cover them well with the mixture. Add the potatoes and mix well. Transfer the chicken and potatoes to a baking pan and cover with baking paper, then aluminum foil with the shiny side facing down.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 30 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 150° and continue baking for at least another 2 hours.
Remove the foil and baking paper. Baste the chicken and potatoes with the juices, and continue baking for another 30-60 minutes until the chicken and potatoes have browned nicely. Baste with the juices every once in a while.
Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 3 hoursStatus: Meat
SEMOLINA CAKE WITH CITRUS SYRUP
Use a 27cm. x 35cm, pan.
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- 4½ cups semolina
- 150 gr. raisins
- 15 dates, pitted and cut into large pieces
- 1 packet baking powder
- Zest from 1 lemon or 1 orange
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1½ cups water
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1-2 drops of rose water or orange blossom water, optional
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
Mix the sugar, oil and eggs together in a bowl. Then, add the semolina, raisins, dates, baking powder and zest. Mix well, then transfer the mixture to a greased pan and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 25-30 minutes.
To prepare syrup, heat the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot for 30 minutes. If you want, you can add 1 or 2 drops of rose water or orange blossom water. Pour the syrup over the cake while it’s still hot. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 40 minutesStatus: Parve
Translated by Hannah Hochner.