Readers often ask how it is that I don’t mind spending so much time in the kitchen.
How can you go to such great lengths to prepare tasty, aesthetically pleasing and healthy meals, they ask, especially when it comes to Jewish festivals? How do you manage it all?
I have a small confession to make: I don’t actually spend so much time in the kitchen. I love making dishes that are simple and can be put together quickly without too much fuss. I do tend to put extra effort into cooking and baking when the holidays roll around, or for a loved one’s birthday. I enjoy trying out new techniques but also try to serve the trusted dishes my family loves, especially when pressed for time. Learn more about Pascale's Kitchen here>>
The best middle-of-the-road option is to make tried-and-true recipes that are quick and easy, and just change a little detail to make them special or a bit fancier. That way I don’t spend too much time in the kitchen, but still can serve a dish that is out of the ordinary.
This is especially helpful in the days and weeks after a holiday, when the last thing we want to do is spend time in food prep.
In that spirit, below you’ll find three recipes that when put together make a wonderful Shabbat lunch meal. None of the recipes are complicated and they don’t require a full day’s labors, yet all will be scrumptious and quite aesthetic.
The first recipe is for kubaneh, a traditional Yemenite bread. Making this might seem overwhelming at first, but is actually quite simple. You need to start early enough to give the dough time to rise before baking, but the actual time needed is very short – and the real magic takes place while it’s baking in the oven and then sitting on your Shabbat hot plate.
The second recipe is for anchovy salad that can be made with spicy peppers instead of anchovies.
The third recipe is for Moroccan cholent called skhina that is prepared in a large pot with enough room for all the goodness that goes into it.
The meal ends with a delicious but incredibly easy marble cake that will get gobbled up in a matter of minutes. If you bake it in a fancy pan, it will look even more luxurious. You can also add nuts or dried fruits, or sprinkle it with powdered sugar just before serving, alongside piping-hot mugs of tea.
A traditional Yemenite bread eaten Shabbat morning, kubaneh looks like rolls baked together in a special tall pot. The dough is kneaded and then allowed to rise a number of times. Some people add an egg to the dough.
Makes 6-8 servings.
20 gr. fresh yeast
1 tsp. sugar
½ cup water at room temperature
500 gr. flour, sifted (continued)
1½ tsp. salt
½ cup water
1-2 cups water
80-100 gr. butter or margarine, melted
Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of sugar and ½ cup of room-temperature water. Let it ferment for 15 minutes. If you’re using yeast granules, you can skip this step.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and fermented yeast or granules. Add the water while kneading. Keep kneading until dough is soft. Cover with a towel or with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to let the dough rise for 3½ hours.
Separate the dough into 6 or 8 equal-sized balls. Dip each ball into the melted butter or margarine and then place them in a covered jachnun pot with a diameter of 22 or 24 centimeters, or in a regular pot. Place the first ball in the center of the pot, and then place the rest in a ring around the edge. Cover the pot with a towel and let the dough rise again in a warm place for 90 minutes.
Bake the kubaneh for 45-60 minutes in an oven that was preheated to 180°C until it turns golden brown. Place on the electric Shabbat hot plate and leave it until the morning.
Level of difficulty: Easy–medium.
Time: Five hours, plus overnight on electric Shabbat plate.
Status: Dairy or pareve.
SKHINA (CHOLENT MADE WITH CHICKPEAS AND BARLEY)
There’s a large variety of cholent recipes, and each community uses special ingredients. The most noticeable difference between versions is which legumes and vegetables are added. Although some people might think that preparing cholent is complicated, it’s actually quite simple, and no matter what you do, it pretty much always comes out tasty.
Skhina is a Moroccan version of cholent that means “hot.” It includes chickpeas, barley and rice. You can also add sweet potatoes, which add sweetness as well as a wonderful hue. The barley and rice should be cooked inside a cloth bag that is immersed inside the cholent pot.
Makes 8 servings.
350 gr. (2½-3 cups) chickpeas, soaked overnight in water
4-5 pieces of meat on the bone, such as osso buco
2 marrow bones
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves
2 sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cumin
8-10 cups water
Legume and rice bags:
250 gr. barley, soaked in water for 1 hour
1 cup rice, rinsed well
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cumin
Arrange the chickpeas, beef, bones, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and eggs in a large pot. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric and cumin on top. Add water to cover the ingredients. Add the date and cook over medium flame until it comes to a boil.
Add the barley, salt, pepper and half of the spices, 2 cloves of garlic, and half a cup of water to the cloth bag. Close the bag well. If you’re using a plastic, oven-proof bag, make sure to make a few small punctures in the bag with a toothpick.
Add the rice to another cloth or plastic bag and add the salt, pepper, the other half of the spices, 2 cloves of garlic and half a cup of water. Close the bag well. If you’re using a plastic, oven-proof bag, make sure to make a few small punctures in the bag with a toothpick.
Once the cholent contents have begun boiling, add the barley and rice bags to the cholent pot. Bring back to a boil and then transfer pot to an electric Shabbat hot plate or to an oven that will be left on all Shabbat.
Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.
Time: 30 minutes, plus overnight on electric hot plate.
This two-color yeast cake is one of my favorites. In addition to swirling cocoa powder into the batter, you can also add dried fruits, nuts or even candies. Once the cake has cooled, make sure to wrap it really tightly with plastic wrap and then a layer of thick foil. This way, it can last for up to 4 days.
This marble cake recipe is so easy and its only drawback is that it gets gobbled up so quickly.
Use a 24-cm. diameter wonder pot, greased and floured.
200 gr. butter or margarine, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
150 gr. pareve or dairy whipping cream or yogurt
2 Tbsp. water, juice or milk
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. water, juice or milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter or margarine on high speed. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla sugar and mix for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the eggs. Mix until smooth.
Lower the speed and add the flour, cream and water/juice/milk gradually and intermittently. Pour half of the batter into the pan. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of water/juice/milk. Add this to the second half of batter and mix well. Then, pour the rest of the batter into the pan.
Take a skewer or spoon and stick it into the batter. Drag it inside the batter to make the shape of the number 8, so that the white and brown parts of the batter form an interesting pattern.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170-180°C for 45-50 minutes. Take out and let cool on a wire rack.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Pareve or dairy.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.