Pascale’s kitchen: Special Shabbat dishes

This week, I decided to offer three recipes for dishes that I love serving my family on Shabbat.

 Whole wheat challah (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Whole wheat challah
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

I love Shabbat. For me, it is an island of sanity far away from all the noise and running around of the workweek. 

I am heavily influenced by my late mother, Esther, who would begin preparing for Shabbat in the middle of the week. Already on Wednesdays, I begin checking in with my children to see who is planning on coming home that week for the Shabbat meal. According to who plans to join us, I choose which dishes and delicacies to prepare for my festive Shabbat dinner table. 

I like to make sure that I prepare something special for each family member who will be joining us. For one, a certain meat dish he loves; for another, a favorite dessert.

This week, I decided to offer three recipes for dishes that I love serving my family on Shabbat.

The first is macaroni cholent, since cool weather will (hopefully) be coming our way soon. This cholent is cooked in a regular pot and is meant to sit on a hot plate all night long, covered by a towel to keep in the heat, or in an oven set at a very low temperature. 

There are many versions of and techniques for making cholent, and each community has its own recipe, but the basics are all pretty much the same.

Macaroni cholent is a lighter version that is perfect for serving in the early fall days when it’s not so cold out yet. It hails from the Sephardi Jerusalem cuisine that began when Spanish Jews were expelled during the Inquisition. Jews who made it to Italy began adding noodles to their cholent. In Israel, people use macaroni, but I think it’s best to use bucatini, thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center. 

The original recipe does not call for potatoes, but they are an appropriate addition to the cholent. You can also add thick slices of potato like you would to make tahdig, crispy Persian rice. 

The second Shabbat recipe I chose is challah made from whole wheat flour, seasoned with thyme and silan, which gives the challah a nice dark brown tinge. A nice added touch is flour sprinkled on top instead of using an egg wash with sesame seeds. 

Of course, no Shabbat meal would be complete without a delicious dessert. This week I’m presenting a recipe for a decadent almond and pecan pie, which can turn any meal into a festive occasion. 

Shabbat shalom.


Makes 6-8 servings.

6-8 pieces of chicken (thighs, drumsticks or any part of the chicken)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sweet paprika

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½-¾ cup oil

2 red potatoes, sliced thickly (optional)

1 package macaroni, cooked according to directions

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, roasted and ground

½ Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. spicy or sweet paprika

1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. silan or brown sugar

6-8 eggs (or the number of people who will be at the meal), hard-boiled

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, paprika and garlic on them. Rub the spices into the chicken pieces.

Heat the oil in a large iron pot that can be used in an oven and sear the chicken pieces on both sides. 

Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place them in a bowl. If you’re using the potatoes, fry them in the same pot on both sides until they begin to turn golden brown. 

Add the cooked macaroni to a separate bowl and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, paprika, tomato paste and silan. Mix well. 

Preheat your oven to 120°. Arrange potato pieces on the bottom of the pot (add 1-2 tablespoons of oil, if necessary). Add half of the spiced macaroni and then the chicken pieces on top. Add the other half of the macaroni, then pour 1/3 cup of water on top and more salt and pepper. 

Cover with baking paper and press down on the macaroni. Place the hard-boiled eggs on top of the baking paper, then cover the pot with the lid. Cook in the oven overnight or 6-8 hours at 120°. Serve hot.

Level of difficulty: Medium.

Time: 1 hour + cooking time.

Status: Meat.

 Macaroni cholent (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Macaroni cholent (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)


Makes 1 large challah or 2 medium challot.

1 kg. whole wheat or whole spelt flour, sifted

3 Tbsp. oil

1 egg

50 gr. margarine, softened (or oil)

1 tsp. salt

50 gr. fresh yeast

5 Tbsp. sugar or 2 Tbsp. silan

1 heaping Tbsp. thyme leaves

2½-3¼ cups water


½ cup white flour

Place the flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Form a well in the center and pour in the oil, egg, margarine and salt. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar or silan around the edge.

Mix on medium speed and gradually add the water, and slowly increase the speed. Mix for 8 minutes until the dough is soft and has separated from the side of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until it has doubled in volume. 

Punch out the air in the dough and then separate into 3 sections. Form each section into a long log. Connect the three logs and then braid into a challah. Secure both ends of the challah. You can also make a challah with four strips. 

Place the challah on a tray that has been covered with baking paper and let it rise another 20 minutes.

Before putting the challah into the oven, sprinkle flour on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 180° until it has nicely browned. Take out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

Level of difficulty: Medium.

Time: 3 hours (including time for letting challah rise).

Status: Parve.

 Whole wheat challah (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Whole wheat challah (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)


Use a pie pan with a 26-cm. diameter.


2 cups flour, sifted

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup powdered sugar

200 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes

1 packet vanilla sugar

1 egg


¾ cup maple syrup

¾ cup brown sugar

2 packets vanilla sugar

75 gr. butter

4 eggs

250 gr. pecans

100 gr. almonds


½ cup slivered almonds

To prepare the dough, add all dough ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough falls away from the side of the bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface. Line a pie dish with the dough. Poke holes in the dough with the tines of a fork, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

Take the dough out of the freezer and place baking paper on top of it. Place a layer of dry beans on the baking paper and then bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 15-20 minutes until the dough turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. 

To prepare the filling, add the maple syrup, sugar, vanilla sugar and butter to a medium pot and heat over a low flame. Stir and bring almost to a boil. The color should be brown. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs on high speed. Gradually add the maple syrup mixture to the eggs while mixing. Mix well. 

Add the almonds and pecans and mix well. Pour the mixture into the crust. Place slivered almonds around the edge of the pie and cook another 5-10 minutes. Remove the pie and let it cool. 

Level of difficulty: Medium

Time: 1.5-2 hours.

Status: Dairy.

 Pecan and almond pie (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Pecan and almond pie (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Translated by Hannah Hochner.